Lorraine McLoughlin: Before early light fades

In early light, footsteps already mark the sand: a single file of a runner’s sprung step; the wider spread of a walker’s plod; paw prints in playful circles; the web patterns of tiny bird feet.

As morning opens a new page, it reveals overnight sand drawings marking the water’s gradual retreat, sometimes pencil-thin ridges of sand, and sometimes lines of seaweed and shell grit.

In the calm and quiet, it is easy to notice little things: some crunch underfoot, some I pick up to hold a moment — a bright red starfish, shells of exquisite perfection, and pieces broken by waves more fierce than the ones presently lapping the shore. Across these gentle rhythms, gulls call, but beyond the sea swells and rolls, playing its part in the ocean networks of tides and a wider world.

I take in the close views of sandy beach, but there is no denying the back drop of a larger landscape, blue hills of coastal beauty dropping to water’s edge and enticing me to look up and into the distance, to take in the further horizon.

Yet for now I savour the moment close at hand. I feel the breeze in my hair, lick salty brine off my lips and notice the subtle morning colours, muted and pastel. With each breath I try to take in the energy from the rolling water, and capture for later the momentary serenity and stillness that follow each wave. I will the pattern of ebb and flow to nourish me before the day’s busyness stamps its brightness over gentle moments. I try to burn into my mind the wonderment of this place and its small and big views before the world stomps louder demands over memories of tiny things, noticed in the spaciousness of a beach walk. 

Lorraine McLoughlin is an author and is involved in community literary events in the Yankalilla district. For more information about the events, visit www.booksandwordsgroup.weebly.com