Thursday, June 15, 2006

The Familiar and The Unexpected

We know we are home when we go for one of our walks and see the things we expect to see. Expectation is not diminished by the comfort of the familiar. To the contrary, that fulfillment is essential to place and grounding.

We skipped a -3.1 tide on Tuesday. It's practically a heresy for us to do that. A minus tide is like a moon-earth-tide sanctuary of ordinary revelation. We were just too exhausted to expend the necessary energy. But on Wednesday we took a long minus-tide walk. We saw what we expected.

An eagle flew from a hidden tree and watched us as we peered up at its nest. We were longing for a glimpse of her shaggy gray babies on the nest edge, practicing with their new wings. Not yet. The eaglets are not ready for that exercise.
We saw a common seagull on the beach, its beak opened wider than our imaginations could conjure. I definitely thought of my mother admonishing her children not to have eyes bigger than our stomachs.
But all walks, and this is also why we take them, reward us with the unexpected. For most of the journey two otters followed along in the bay watching us. I could only photograph a bit of their antics.
They were quite a bit offshore, but their presence was absolutely palpable. dpr watched them through the binoculars and could see that one otter was feasting on large silvery fish, one after another.
The otters seemed to confer with each other, and simultaneously split for parts unknown.
Then, something at the shoreline caught my eye. There was a creature on four-legs and definitely scavenging. My heart skipped a beat thinking it might be one of the otters, but when dpr looked through the binoculars, he said, nope, that's a raccoon in the water. Neither of us had ever seen such a thing, but there it was.
After a few minutes it ran out of the water and hid in some fallen trees at the base of the hillside where it meets the beach. Suddenly it was quiet all around.

We continued walking down the beach. Clam siphons retreated beneath the sand and shot streams of water up our pant legs. We laughed. The clams are like little bi-valve Old Faithfuls, they spout reliably and randomly whenever we walk this beach. It has become familiar, but still that spray of cold water is always a surprise.

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