Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Everything Happens In Waves

Doesn't it seem a little early for there to be robins already hanging out in New England? These fat little orange guys used to be a sign of spring. Is that no longer the case?

On Saturday, I looked out the back window and saw about twenty of them. They had discovered this tiny strip of the backyard that had no snow on it. It was sheltered by the over hang of a fence and was about four inches wide and fifteen feet long. Instead of snow, like everywhere else, there were leaves and grass and dirt. These twenty robins were all over that little oasis. It was chaotic and frantic like the sundae bar at fat camp.

But this morning, things were the opposite. Not only were the robins gone, but the streets were deserted. I was trudging along, like I do, listening to my Radiolab podcast and I noticed that there were no cars passing by. I could cross the street effortlessly. It was quiet and tranquil and strange. Is this what the country is like under the new guy? Even my bagel shop was pretty empty.

Was this Tuesday actually less well-attended than others or did I just happen to be synched up with a null of some sort. Everything happens in waves.

I've never surfed, but a couple of years ago I was in the Atlantic Ocean on the coast of Florida. I think it may have been Ft. Lauderdale or maybe Daytona. I'm not sure. I do know that it was a white sand beach, it was hot outside, and the water was warm! For my whole life the ocean has been a cold thing. I grew up here in New England. The waters off the coast of Massachusetts and New Hampshire are cruel in their temperatures. I've always shied away from the cold, so I didn't spend much time in the water at my local beaches. I didn't even spend THAT much time in our above-ground pool, which was shaded by towering pine trees and hardly ever broke the 70 degree mark.

I always heard about the warm ocean in the south but I found it hard to imagine. How could something as cold as the ocean really be warm? But, sure enough here I was on this Florida beach, standing in the water and I wasn't recoiling and tensing up from the cold. On this particular beach there was a long stretch from the water's edge to any sort of real depth. When you entered the water you gradually immersed yourself. First your ankles then a bit further and you are up to your knees. It was gentle and barely sloping and the water was clear. It went down to about five feet deep and then it got shallow again until you reach a sandbar where you approached the second water's edge. This is where the big waves were crashing.

(I swear I have written this story before but I can't find it anywhere in my searches of the Rockumentary. Forgive me if I am repeating myself)

I was just enjoying peacefully wading in the five foot deep poolish part when I saw a tiny little girl struggling in the small waves. She was probably three or four years old and had swimmy things on her arms, you know, those little balloons that kids where in the water, and she was doing her best to make it across the deeper section of the water in order to reach the safety of the sand bar.

I looked around and there was nobody with her. There was nobody on the beach looking after her attempts, she seemed totally on her own and so tiny. The waves in this little pool-like area were only about three or four inches high but they were just powerful enough so that they kept pushing her back despite her frantic kicking of her teeny feet. I asked her where her parents were.

It seemed like she didn't really speak English very well, but she did understand me and she pointed way out to the other side of the sandbar where a group of people - one of whom presumably was her mother - were playing in the big crashing waves. They were quite far away and they didn't seem at all concerned that the tiny girl was not with them.

I asked if she needed help and at first she said no. But she was continuing to be pushed back by each little wave and there was no way she could reach the ground. She was out of breath and spitting the water out of her mouth as she struggled.

Finally, I said, "Would you like me to pull you?" She nodded the best that she could and I held out my hand. She grabbed on with her miniature fingers and I towed her through the water until we found a place where she could reach the ground. As I pulled her, she seemed to have no weight at all. When she could finally reach the ground, she caught her breath, and I think said thank you, and ran towards her oblivious mother and family.

I went back to the warm beach and dried off and then Lesa and I looked for a place to get lunch.

1 comment:

No Stand In Will Do said...

Thanks, Henning, for being such a nice man. I appreciate it.