I walk the wavering limit of sand and sea, the Pacific’s grey serrated edge. The wind, flavored with salt and sun-dried kelp, pushes me, smudging my glasses with briny thumbs. A foam-white gull hunkers down against the wind. It glares at me with a yellow eye, wary but unwilling to move as long as I keep my distance. Plovers weave up and down the sand, dancing with their watery partner, piping and whistling. At my approach, they burst upward in a seething cloud of wings that veers drunkenly along the shore before settling down at a safer distance.
The waves hesitate, gathering their courage, then rush up the sloping shore. The first one covers my feet, the second my ankles, the third, calves. The water shocks with skin-tightening cold, but once the waves caress the sun-kissed sand, they recede with warmth and slip gently out to sea.
It is low tide, the time when the ocean rummages through dark cupboards, searching for trinkets and loose change to toss up on land when the next advance begins. Past offerings make ripples beneath the retreating waves or lie bright in the water-dark sand. Razor clams, splayed wide like nacre butterflies, are brittle and sharp splashes of dark purple or brilliant white. The pale skeletons of sand dollars lie strewn about, all broken, metaphors waiting to be used.
I walk through the dirty, heavy-handed rip current and the calmer, cleaner slack. I feel the tug of the water, sense the shifting sand beneath my feet. I taste both sea and earth on the ceaseless wind.
This is the edge, the limit of the world, the place where both land and ocean end.