Winter Storms

Surfer at NB BayWalking along North Berwick beach last week I spotted a rare sight lying low along the foaming waves –  a surfer. Bobbing up and down she battled the surge to gain the swells forming within the shallow bay, but after several attempts, and no decent rides, she abandoned the effort and waded off, probably down to Ravensheugh or Dunbar in search of bigger waves.

Eroding sandsThe sand however could not retreat, and great chunks were being pulled into the sea creating a landscape of soft cliffs along an ordinarily level sweep of beach. Tugging and pulling, the surf relentlessly washed forward and back, sucking the mounds from underneath, and then once dispelled, surged to nag at the old boards holding the sea back from the shore.

Seaweed pyres

Further towards the West, once the tide had retreated, I came across great heaps of seaweeds, tangled and tossed into huge pyres and hanging from the highest rocks. These mangled mountains must have contained thousands, if not millions, of seaweeds, from giant kelps and big bands of fucus to mats of shiny laver and tangles of mermaids’ hair.  What an extraordinary testament to the flora beneath the waves.

Rare Harvest Jan 2014

Lastly, at the lowest ebb of the tide, I came across a rare harvest; with tons of sand pulled back into the deep, there lying exposed were a plethora of golf balls. I started to gather one or two (good for backyard practice) and soon realised they were in every nook and cranny, some even came with the stipes of young seaweeds attached. The most interesting one however was an old specimen, brown with microscopic algae, its shiny surface of tiny pockmarks echoing an age gone by – it was probably played about 30 years ago… I guess golfers have found this stretch of the course difficult for a long time.

Shining Sands

Bench by sea - North BerwickWalking down to the beach the other evening, I found the tide at its lowest ebb, the sands drawn smooth by the ocean’s pull, and an ethereal glow infusing water’s edge to grassy shore. Opaque hues of iridescent blue and ribbons of red and gold fanned across the shimmering panorama/canvas. Funnels of light poured through the backlit clouds, illuminating and shifting  colours, pushing and pulling shadows and shades to dance across the expanse. Yellow lichened rocks sparkled in the warming light and the Bass glowed luminous across the white-licked waves.  The lapping tide arrested its movement and a golden peace descended; all breath expelled into gossamer air  –  the sea, the sky and the earth resting for a moment to let the tide turn.

Sand treesReturning from the shore, I watched the trickles of tidewater heading home, carving tracery fingers into the soft sandy banks and fringes of pools to leave transitory motifs of their passing. Sometimes these look like silhouettes of ancient forests; hills lined with gnarled trees,  limbs and branches stretching into rivulets of sand. Sometimes like the stream beds of dry deserts, pummeled, molded and then swept away  by the wind.

IMG_0055The sands, newly washed clean, started to shift with life again. Wiggles of worm casings spiraled up across the wettest shores, tiny flies emerged from crusted pockets of sand, and the dunes released sprays of summer swallows in hot pursuit. The sandpipers resumed their tide line inspections and the gulls called out cacophonously for a final hunt.