The end of summer. It had to come, we all knew it would. It’s as inevitable as the coming of summer–its going–and truth betold, I love fall best anyway. But it’s always bitter sweet, this end of the season. I feel older each time it wanes. I felt especially old this last weekend with a challenge ahead of me that I did not ask for and do not want. This challenge has taken the wind out of my usually amply puffed sails, and so thanks to my brother and sister in law, I spent my time in respite with my husband this last weekend, beachcombing for beachglass.
It’s a strangely addicting activity that I succumb to each time I’m ferried to my husband’s family fishing shanty, a twenty minute sail out into the Atlantic. Oh, they don’t fish from there anymore, not like when I first started dating him and he stayed in his little island home for weeks in the winter and spring during the lobster season. No. Not many fishermen really stay in their island shanties now for longer than 3 weeks in the first of the season, but they all go there in the summer for the weekends. It’s become a place of leisure not so much of bone weary work–unless you want it, and some do. They like to work when they are there. Mostly, the shanties have become cottages where its inhabitants party, drink, relax, work on gear, and in some cases have potlucks and bring their newborns to see from whence their grandfathers have come.
So as I pick about the rocky beach with so little sand you couldn’t truly call it a beach, I scout for telltale signs of frosted colour among the pebbles and can’t help but think I’ll find my spirit in the crags too, broken maybe, frosted with anxiety, but still a thing of beauty if the pieces can be found and salvaged.
I let the search and the intoxicating MEDITATION of it fill me. I have no reason to pick the beach, I have enough glass at home. There’s pieces in the shanty to fill at least 8 old coffee jars. No. It’s not the acquisition that I seek. It’s the act.
It’s not enough spy the glass, you see, one has to LIFT it from the beach for it to truly be yours. You can’t just let someone else pick it for you and pass it to you. It must come to your hand and nestle in your palm, be turned over and admired. Brown, green, white, sometimes lavendar and blue. Even once a shard of orange.
I scan, step, bend, reach, and grasp over and over as this particular island has a lot of beachglass to reward a committed eye. As I step, scan, reach, step, I sense something shift within. I think about another beach: one of my own imagining and put down into words for another broken person. This person exists only in my mind: well, there and in the novel I put him into.
Luke MacIsaac has my maiden name because he lives in the Maritime provinces. I wanted him to have some of my blood and heritage. Not because he’s a great protagonist: he’s miserable, actually. He’s mean and spiteful.
And he’s broken into as many pieces as I can find pieces of seaglass on this little Tusket island.
I think about him and why I felt he had to lose himself and find himself again on a beach in order for his arc to be right, and I think that maybe it’s because of the intoxicating nothingness of the sound of surf. The feeling that a beach is a sort of soul’s plane for any Maritimer. We need the sand beneath our toes to feel grounded. We need the smell of seaweed in our lungs to be able to breathe.
Luke was broken in One Insular Tahiti, but he came out whole, I remember. I tell myself that as I scan, step, reach, pick another piece of glass: turquoise, this time–a rare find.
And he found his spirit too. In pieces at first, but fully repaired when all the hard work was done. I’m certainly not in as bad a shape spiritually as Luke, but he serves to teach me a lesson.
Luke, a man who existed only in my mind for a while until he forayed into e-ink has reminded me that sometimes things can be more beautiful after they’ve been broken.
He, and a few pieces of frosted, colourful beachglass.
If you liked this post, please do share. If you tweet it with the hashtag #theagimmesome I will enter you into a weekly random draw to win an ebook.