Along the west coast of the United States, folks call the lowest tides of the year ‘Spring Tides.’ In a stroke of good fortune, I was recently in the right place at the right time to experience the lowest tide of the year at Haystack rocks’ Marine Gardens at Cannon Beach, OR. As I set out for my morning barefoot walk along the beach from Stephanie Inn, I noticed a difference in the lay of the land and water, a broader expanse of sand opened westward toward the Pacific. Looking toward the marine gardens surrounding the base of Haystack Rocks, the breakers that usually prevented access rugged shallow marine areas. Something was different…
I had stepped carefully (kept to the sand!) among the tidal pools on many times at low tide, and I had seen many low tides before… This one felt different… with volunteers making haste to count the marine life and record findings. Scientists and nature lovers flocked to experience the marine gardens and to witness the seabed, open and vulnerable. It was a rare chance to see what lived beneath the sea-foam! Especially since a massive changes along the Oregon coast and the die-off of sea stars several years ago.
Normally at low tide, access opened toward the shore side, but I was always wary of dangerous waves that crashed through the crevasses. With the waters drawn back beyond Haystack Rock, I was able to see with my own eyes why the waves pounded with such violence. The area around the gardens is actually quite shallow, in contrast to deeper waters beyond the stacks.
The definition of the word ‘tide’ means a portion or division of time. During Middle Ages, the word was adopted in relationship to the sea and has been used in that capacity into modern times. and with that portion comes impermanence and also changes to the status quo.
A tide is a force, and energy flow, indicating a fluidity or a dynamic of living. A low tide draws away ~ withdraws a veil ~ reveals ~ separates ~ exposes things otherwise hidden. High tide obscures ~ inundates ~ covers ~ conceals. Tides measure the flow of time as well as water. Could it be that time is as fluid and pliable as water? Does time also depend on gravitation properties and conditions surrounding it?
The word ‘tidings’ also denotes the flow of thoughts and of communication. Eastertide and Yuletide describe times under the influence of particular joys and blessings. Could this indicate an ebb and flow of subtle goodness? Certainly some food for thought…
These windows of time, such as this super low tide, require a more expanded awareness to maximize this rare opportunity. These windows of time are fleeting ~ so much so that we can see the waters turn on a dime from rushing into the sea to filling pools within minutes. I wonder how quickly other expressions of time can also change?
Entire ecologies exist in these in-between zones ~ world between worlds ~ created by gravitational waves and forces exchanged between earth and moon ~ a visible bond between celestials ~ indeed between our human bodies and the heavenly spheres to which we woe our existence! No wonder faith, hope and love are associated with the spiritual tides of earth’s seasons.
And yet, mother nature and the sea spirits are task masters who remind us how fragile life is. A degree rise in ocean temps may decimate delicate ecosystems. The mystery of life balances on the top of a pinhead. A decade ago, the Oregon coast was home to giant sea stars and then they mysteriously disappeared from the most accessible tidal pools. where once there were hundreds, I was grateful to see three in the volcanic crusted outer pools on this visit.
But that’s the way it goes, isn’t it? We grieve the transience of our brief glimpse of bliss. Tides have a way of washing away our footprints in the sand just as life washes away all other efforts to maintain status quo. When we entrench ourselves in the idols of our past, we often times miss opportunities to live in the present , where true happiness resides. So… let the Low Tides Roll!