Sunday, July 25, 2010

Gonzales Beach

Lakes have their virtues, their waters being clean, fresh (under ideal circumstances) and suitable for drinking and washing. Lakes can enjoy beautiful settings nestled among verdant hills, home to numerous birds and animals, giving life to the forests and grasses. They can even be of vast proportions, like the Great Lakes. But without the oceans there would be very little life on this planet.
You can smell the life of the ocean as soon as you get off the bus at Gonzales Beach, especially when the tide is out. Gonzales is a pretty little beach at the foot of a pretty little cove. In Canada the foreshore is never privately owned, so although it is surrounded by rather grand houses, the public has free access to the beach. A well-kept green space, equipped with washroom facilities and a few parking places, has steps leading down through a stand of tall trees.
Not everyone likes that aroma of the foreshore, the reek of rotting organisms mixed with salt and all the other dissolved minerals, but I find it deeply satisfying and I don't like to be very far away from it.
As you walk toward the stairway, a glimpse of the cove catches the eye between the foliage of the trees, and that always gives me a bit of a thrill. I never get tired of it. Even from above you can feel the movement of the ocean through the earth. Maybe its a deep subsonic rumble I can hear through my limbs. It makes me think of the immense weight of the oceans rolling around in the hollows of the planet and that all that water is in sync with the moon and the sun. That means that the rumble is really an echo of the stars, and I am listening to the music of the spheres.
Then I walk to the edge of this immensity and let it nibble gently at my toes like a tame puppy.
It's a scientific orthodoxy, one which has become a commonplace among most people, that we are insignificant nothings. In the grand scheme of things we're no different than those slimy things that live in the tidal pools they say. And in the last few decades a school of thought known as 'deep ecology' has taken that commonplace one step further. They see the planet as holy, but they see man as a contaminant, a pathogen that is destroying the earth.
The Biblical perspective is that God created the universe for us, and if we think of God as the universe above the universe then he created the universe for us. If we humans are, as the scientists say, hardly any different from a chimp, their genetic makeup and ours being 98% the same, that certainly ascribes an awful lot of power to the double helix, if such a slight modification of it can account for human civilization. After all, it's not a chimp sitting here on a driftwood log writing these words, contemplating the beauty and grandeur of creation. It's me, a man.
It's a pleasure to watch the small children come onto the beach. As soon as they see the shoreline, they scamper as fast as their little legs will carry them straight to the edge of the water, letting out squeals of delight when they feel the cold water washing their toes. But right away they get busy with their shovels and pails and start making things with the materials at hand. Water and sand, digging holes, filling bucket with sand and water, moving things around, inventing. Thoughts and ideas tumble out of their minds and they are happily busy carrying them out.
A few sunbathers look on from their little privacy spaces behind driftwood, not so many yet, it's still early. Far out on the water with the Olympics for a backdrop, a big container ship coming in from who knows where.
These same waters that tickle my toes is the same body of water carrying that ship from so many thousands of miles away. So much there is to contemplate during a visit to the beach. And on the way back a rousing game of lawn bowling in Beacon Hill Park. Another day to be thankful I'm a Cracker.
As we grow out of childhood life becomes more serious. What used to be play becomes work, but work is play refined and elaborated. The impulses that move us to mess around in the sand as children are the same ones that move us to build roads and houses as adults. Those scientists tell us we are 90% water. That must mean that the ocean is within us, and our movements too are part of the same choreography that moves the oceans and the stars. It is a divine order and we are part of it. The deep ecologists are deeply wrong. Without us the universe is not aware of itself. We have awareness, we have reason which helps us understand the processes behind the things we perceive through our senses, and above all else, we are sensitive to beauty, and we know that beauty is good. There is much we can never understand, but if we understand that we will be all right.

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