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The Leaving Journal

Te Pukatea Bay, Abel Tasman Coast Track

NEW ZEALAND | Monday, 26 January 2015 | Views [297]

"Can we go to bed yet? " I ask.
"No, it's only 7pm, you'll be awake at 5 if you go to sleep now," Lizzy answers.
"Well, what are we going to do?" I whine. I'm only half-kidding in my childish behavior. Lizzy smiles knowingly.
"Read. Write. Look at the water."
"But I don't want to do any of those things."
"You could just sit and be alone with your thoughts."
"That sounds super boring."
We both laugh. Lizzy takes her notebook and heads for the beach. I loiter aimlessly by the tent, looking up at the tree branches, trying to find some physical evidence of the orchestra of insect and bird noises. I sigh. Open my water bottle. Take a sip. Push stuff around in my backpack. Take another sip of water.
Though uninspired, I gather my water color paints and find a spot on the beach. The bay is picturesque in the evening light, twin jetties of rock curving into the water, a small red fishing boat in the distance. I envision my brush on the paper, strokes of color blending into the greatest beach scene watercolor the world has ever known. I will be famous! My name will fall among the greats, I'll be lauded by the Louvre, revered by MOMA. I'll take up a bohemian lifestyle in a Paris apartment with a harem of polyamorous lovers.
The surface of the water is a pearlescent blue that I can't recreate on my palette. As I reach for more water, the cup spills all over my paper. I jerk the paper up in an attempt to dry it quickly and knock the paints into the sand. They sit there, little squares of color coated in a sheen of grain, looking defeated. I sigh.
A short walk up the beach takes me to a pile of boulders. I pull myself up on on the gritty rock and discover a tide pool. A tiny ecosystem, a world within a world, just puttering along in this dip in this rock on this beach where I happen to be crawling on this day. Camouflaged fish, no bigger than a thumbnail, are startled by my massive, looming presence and scurry to the other end of the pool. I giggle with the surprised delight of a child. The bottom of the pool is coated in soft, dancing anemones, the sides stuck with bumpy mussels gripping to the rock. A single transparent shrimp scurries around, cleaning house in a busy, frantic way. In my still examination, the mottled gray fish have inched back towards me, trying desperately to give each other space where there is so little.
Hopeful of more curious little ponds, I climb another boulder and scan the cups of water carved by the rain and sea. Finding nothing, I rest my head on my arms and listen the the coast talk: the rumble of low tide in the rocks, the steady lap of waves, the mocking laughter of sea gulls (obnoxious creatures, those).
The fisherman starts his engine and angles his red boat out of the bay, racing the sun home. As twilight settles, the sea's unpaintable pearly blue grows a greenish edge; the sand, so pale in the bright daylight, takes on a burnt brown color. The moon, waiting patiently in the sky since noon, sheds it's dull day-time shroud and moves center stage, glowing.
I revel in it all: the moon that's been pulling these tides since before human memory, the tide pool that will grow and die and regrow far beyond my brief witness, these massive boulders that will whittle down into sand to feed this perfect little beach, the perfect coincidence of seeking inspiration in your backyard and finding it, just waiting to be discovered.
Then I remember that Lizzy, a child of land-locked Colorado who saw her very first jellyfish this afternoon, might never have seen a true tide pool, and I scramble off the rock to find her before dark.

Tags: bays, beaches, coast, inspiration, new zealand, saline, tide pools, water

 

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