09 February 2013

running to the sea

today i ran to the sea and all i thought about was death. there could be lots of ways to die; slipping on the dark slimy rocks, being buried under a landslide, an unusually strong current might carry me out to sea or some brave marine creature might rise from the depths and pull me under. but what i'm really worried about is being hit by a golf ball. i know it sounds silly but i do find them on the beach and when i met arthur, it was one of the first things i asked him. that day there were two, nestled beside each other like eggs on a rocky ledge but he told me he'd never seen one land. he's more interested in finding a good one and selling it to somebody.

all the other ways of dying are part of the risks you take when visiting the sea. but being hit in the head by a golf ball and dying on the beach feels wrong. it would be unlucky.

a flight of about twenty cormorants make a hasty departure. their feet drag across the glassy water leaving a trail that starts in one place but explodes outwards like a head of cow parsley. the beach is empty. only one person has been here before me and he had gone to look in a cave. i say 'he' because when i place my shoe inside one of the footprints they are at least three sizes bigger.

i enter the water with a lot of swearing.  paddling next to me is a solitary shearwater, but i can't work out what type of shearwater he is. i wonder why he didn't leave with the cormorants. he doesn't seem to mind my presence and my words wash over him. there's no way of comparing our foot size so i don't know for sure that he is a he, i just think he is. i swim out to my rock and he dives down. what if he's a malicious shearwater and is planning to attack me from below? 

it's colder than marble and i'm still swearing under my breath. everything feels low. the sky hangs low and the birds fly low and the shearwater re-emerges. the water is clear and the sand has returned. my feet sink into it like a thick carpet and leave a set of more hurried footprints. i wash my feet in the foot pool but it involves a lot of hopping and i know that the man who showed it to me it would disapprove.

a little puff of wind catches my trousers and blows them into the foot pool. with a lightening quick reaction i didn't know i was capable of, i grab them before they go under. they are mostly dry but as i step into them i marvel at the way they have got wet. from the crotch all down the inside of one leg it's saturated. as well as being fascinated i'm also a little bit annoyed as i'm freezing. but how did they manage to get wet like this? on the rock they were all scrunched up in a clump so surely they should be damp in small patches. it looks like i've wet myself and takes seconds to soak through to my pants, so it feels that way too. it's cold and uncomfortable but this edge of comedy brings a hesitant smile to my face.

(ps. from the sounds of things and from someone who knows, i've got all the birds wrong!)

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