On September 1st I took Grace and Whit on a last summer adventure. We drove about an hour north to the beach. The day was magical. It started out with Grace noticing a rainbow in the cloudy sky – not the standard arc but literally a patch of rainbow among the clouds. I thought of the Tennessee Williams line I love about a complete overcast, then a blaze of light. The rainbow is always there, even in a sky mottled with clouds. You just have to look.
We got to the beach early and it was low tide and beautifully deserted. Throughout the morning the tide came in, creating and then erasing a series of sand bars as it did so. We spent the day dancing with the inexorability of the tides. We stood on sandbars until the water lapped at our feet, wondering at how something that can be so seemingly solid – the sand under us – can suddenly disappear into the ocean. Whit kept shouting about how the sandbar had been “washed out to sea” and I explained that no, the next time the tide went out it would reappear again. He looked at me when I said this, baffled, but then he smiled, visibly reassured.
Grace and Whit played in the shallow water as the waves came in, noticed how you could feel the water pulling away at sand under your feet as it receeded. They jumped in the waves, holding hands. I watched, fighting tears.
Then they built a castle right at the water’s edge and worked at defending it against the incoming tide. Grace scooped out a moat in front of the castle and Whit piled new sand on top of it. They giggled as the waves washed over their castle, slowly wearing it down to flat sand. No matter how hard they worked, of course, the tide won in the end. But of course we know, with utter certainty, that the tide will turn and go out again next. May we trust the tides.
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