A Sandy Beach Almanac

You've landed at Sandy Beach, NSW, Australia: Lat. -30.15331, Long. 153.19960, UT +10:00 – local map & zoom Google map. I live in a cabin on this beach, 25 kilometres north of the traffic and shops of Coffs Harbour, 600 km north of Sydney. My intention is to post observations of Nature and life within 1 km (1,000 paces) of my South Pacific home.


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Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Come to the edge

Come to the edge, Life said.

They said: We are afraid.
Come to the edge, Life said.
They came.

It pushed them ...
And they flew.
Guillaume Apollinaire

When I stand at the edge of the ocean, where the warm water surges against my legs and my feet are in the sand, I'm at the edge of some large and incomprehensible entities.

I'm at the edge of the South Pacific Ocean. But such geographical delineations are, after all, rather arbitrary. Because the South Pacific flows into every other ocean and sea, river and creek, bathtub and can of Pepsi-Cola on the blue planet. At the water's line I am standing at the edge of all the world's water, precipitation, evaporation, flood, drizzle, waves and snow.

Then again, I'm at the edge of Australia. So then I am at the edge of surface earth, the bit that we can see, or at least, that I can see when I turn my head back from the waves and towards the low trees lining the sand. Behind them is my home, and behind that is a continent. The continent is that part of a hump sticking up above sea level, some four thousand kilometres wide. On that hump, wriggling and hopping and slithering and walking are billions of creatures including some twenty million of my brothers and sisters (how often do I forget who they are, in my arrogance!).

Below sea level, my continent has no edges between it and every other nation. Six billion people could meet each other on roller skates if all the water died up.

If, there on the strand, I squat down in the water and look in any direction to what we name the horizon, because we name everything and perhaps have to in order to survive, I see the edge of Planet Earth touching, as it were, the edge of its own atmosphere. I look at my belly and arms and see the edge of my meat touching edges of earth, water and air. I am wet and covered with droplets, and a thin layer of salt, so now the edges of both Pip and everything else are shaped differently from when I walked across the beach to the water's edge. So I am a being of different shape. Who am I now if I have shapeshifted?

And if I squish up my eyes I see little squigglies that are on the edge of the retinas of my eyes, and the particle/waves of light that whoosh through the universe. Those rays hit the edges of atmospheric particles that are invisible to me, and make the sky blaze with blue. If the edges of those particles were laid out, I'm sure they would make a plain on which I could walk to Andromeda.

When I stand on the dry sand, only the soles of my feet form an edge with the solid earth, and my edge with air is much, much larger. So although I consider myself as a terrestrial being, I have more in common with the cormorants, cicadas and dandelion seeds a-floating. Perhaps I have more in common with the lens flare on a photograph taken on such a sub-tropical scorcher as this, than I do with any god that I could imagine. But the water that now splashes my tummy and makes me jump up, is what makes up most of my body, and thus my life, whatever that is.

But if I were to drown now, in the water that is like me but in which I can't live, and they laid my wet carcass out on the sand in this hot weather, soon I would dry out like those desiccated Muttonbirds that are brought in by a high stormy Sandy Beach tide on the way back from Korea. And within days or weeks of this weather and when not one molecule of H2O was in Pip, they could grind me up and in some laboratory find that I, when weighed, like all my 6 billion bothers and sisters, am 15 per cent other creatures.

Those same creatures are below these edges, miles down, some of them living at several times the temperature of boiling water, and in acids stronger than undiluted sulphuric. Those creatures, which we call bacteria (because we must name things), if they all came up from under the hump of Australia and all the other lands that are connected beneath the place where an edge is between water and solid stuff, would cover the whole planet (land and water), some say, to a depth of five miles. By comparison, all the mighty forests of the planet would look like a potted herb.

Come to the edge, I said to myself. And I closed my eyes and I found that I myself am an edge between ... between ...


Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's the best thing I've read in a very long time. It has put into words what I've been feeling all my life. It is asif at last I've found my voice.

11:50 PM  
Blogger Pip said...

Thank you very much.

12:11 AM  
Blogger Saboma said...

Wow...the transition between "Come to the edge" was brilliant in captivating my initial interest in reading this post. As I read on, I became one in the experience of being on the edges edge in association with each picturesque moment of servitude toward life's amazing moments.
I've not been that enraptured in a long time, Pal. Thank you for taking the time to share the magick!

10:30 PM  
Blogger Pip said...

My pleasure, Kid, thank you. :)

11:01 PM  

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