“On all these shores there are echoes of past and future: of the flow of time, obliterating yet containing all that has gone before; of the sea’s eternal rhythms – the tides, the beat of surf, the pressing rivers of the currents – shaping, changing, dominating; of the stream of life, flowing as inexorably as any ocean current, from past to unknown future. For as the shore configuration changes in the flow of time, the pattern of life changes, never static, never quite the same from year to year.”
-Rachel Carson, The Edge of the Sea (1955)
“And I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, ‘If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.’”
-Kurt Vonnegut, A Man Without a Country (2005)
The beckoning coast, that commingling of water and land, spume and spray, refracted light and shadowy depth, is never far from my mind. I was born on a glacial moraine overlooking Puget Sound; that margin’s damp propinquity has never left me. Even while living in the desert. Literally speaking, I’m separated by dozens of miles from the shores of Pyramid Lake, the banks of the Truckee River; dozens more from the alpine granite-paved perimeter of Tahoe, hundreds further from the sea-wracked roiling of the Pacific. Littorally speaking, though, I’m always on edge—land’s edge, that is, echoes of lapping waves within earshot, a vaguely maritime humidity adumbrated on the breeze. I need only look to the adjacent mountain ranges, terraced by breakers surfing the almost mile-high Lake Lahontan twelve thousand years ago—or further back, to nearby Black Rock Point, comprising Triassic-age fossiliferous limestone—to remind myself of this. To place things in the proper context, lest I fall prey to that natal pining.