One gardener's observations, discoveries and random thoughts whilst simultaneously worshipping and dallying in a Cape Cod garden. "A garden," said Ralph Waldo Emerson, "is like those pernicious machineries which catch a man's coatskirt or his hand, and draw in his arm, his leg and his whole body to irresistable destruction."

Time and Tide


Oh, Danny Boy, the beach, the beach is calling


So, another  weekend, another hurricane, although by the time Danny got up to our neighborhood, he’d fallen from his pedestal and was just barely a disorganized tropical depression.  Warnings were reduced to high surf and rip current advisories, but also a flood warning, since we did end up getting several inches of rain.  And our windchimes got a nice workout, too.

I couldn’t resist another trip to the outer beach.   Now, you shouldn’t have the impression I’m some kind of crazy daredevil.  Both last weekend and this, my stormy beach visits have come at low tide.  While  the ocean has definitely been churning with occasional strong surges around my feet, I’ve never really felt  like I was in any danger.  I’m a pretty cautious guy, really.  The high storm tides are something to see, I’m sure…but lately they either happen while it’s dark, or as was the case earlier today, when I was happier to stay nestled in bed under a purring cat.


But I can’t deny there’s some feeble sense of thrill-seeking being played out with these beach visits.   Maybe I’m trying to get my groove back after the surgery (just walking on the beach and along the edge of the surf has been relaxing and good, easy exercise, too, of course…), to carry on the sense of adventure that at least some moments of this past year have held for me.



Remarkably, its been already a year since I acted to change my life, to try to find something better than what I was living.  I think you all know that I really am very happy with how it turned out.  I like being able to go to see a sunset without accusations of lurid affairs when I return.  I don’t miss the slings and arrows of petty criticism launched regularly against me and all the other people in my life I care about, as a means of distracting me from what Shakespeare might’ve called The Stagger I Saw Before Me.  Life with a drunk was no fun and I don’t miss that.  Sure, I spend more time alone these days, but less time – it turns out – feeling lonely.

But to say I don’t, on some level, feel bittersweet would be a lie.  I do still sometimes wish that things had been different between us.   We had our good times and if my brain didn’t spend too much time thinking about what words or deeds might’ve been different, might have made a difference,  I probably wouldn’t recognize it as my knot-tying own gray matter.   How nice it might’ve been if he’d been the guy who wanted to go walk with me on the beach in the rain, or to see a sunset for its own sake.

Maybe I go to the beach because, in the roar of all that surf, I can’t hear the clutter of those thoughts.


And yesterday, I realized, too, that if you are standing in a heavy rain at the beach, it’s not obvious to other people that you’re crying (or it wouldn’t have been, if I hadn’t had the place nearly to myself).   Some of that’s from some lingering hurt, but often those tears just come on me unexpectedly when I’m faced with the natural beauty I’m so lucky to have all around me and gratitude for what’s generally a pretty great life.



And anyway, the tears don’t last.

I stand there on the sand, feeling the surface tension beneath my bare feet…and then I feel that tension break as a thin edge of water washes around me, and my toes sink into the shifting sand a little.  I laugh and breathe a little more easily, looking down at the polished stones the Atlantic is tumbling around me.

And there it is – to my active imagination anyway – a stone in the shape of a heart.  I smile, laughing louder against the roar of the surf.   Is this what I came here for today, to find my heart?


And then it occurs to me that maybe my recent surgery has taught me a lesson I wasn’t expecting.   That maybe, like that incision near my waist, my heart still hurts not because its been broken, but because it’s healing.   And I can’t help but feel hopeful about that.


And then I realize that the sea really is sweeping up shore a little further around me than before and I know that the time of lowest tide has come and gone and the sea is coming in again.   With the storm – disorganized though it may be – still to the south of us, this far down the beach is no place to linger.   Not when there’s dry clothes, hot soup and a purring kitty waiting at home.


Life, as they say, is Beautiful.


Comments on: "Time and Tide" (9)

  1. My thoughts are with you today as you take time to revisit old thoughts and old wounds. I think we all approach the aftermath of dissolved relationships with the questions of what could I have done differently, to avoid this train wreck or what could my partner have done to save it. It’s too easy to blame the other person completely and as I have grown, I ask myself what did I learn from this relationship that I will change in the next one, if I am so lucky to meet another person who finds me interesting enough to pursue more.

    ETOH abuse is a disease and it brings out many times the ugliness of a person. One can become co-dependent in the relationship or when it is obvious that you will be going down with the drowning man if you stay any longer, a lifeline needs to be grabbed and you need to save yourself. You have done this for your own mental health and well-being. It is a very hard decision to make and I commend you for being able to do that. If I can offer some advice, do not look back too long at a failed relationship, but start looking ahead at what you would like to accomplish and be happy. I don’t think you are putting your life on hold but, do live every day to the fullest. You already give more of yourself to the world ( especially the blogging world with your beautiful blog ) than you know. You are constantly brightening someone’s day when they visit your site. I know I always come away from your blog with a sense of just seeing something of beauty without leaving my wee seat in front of my computer. Now, how lazy is that?! ;-)

    You are still a young man and who knows what tomorrow will bring. The point is, you are out there enjoying life and not hiding away only lamenting what might have been. You will know when the time is right for you, Greg. I am sure of that.
    Be well.

    Butch, thanks so much for taking the time to leave such a detailed comment. It’s a great example of why I don’t feel very lonely these days – I’ve a whole raft of friends, near and far, who are present in my life and make a difference. It was those friendships that helped me gain the perspective needed to make those changes of last year, after all.

    You’re right when you say I don’t have my life on hold. I do try not to linger in past hurts or failures, though I couldn’t help my thoughts turning some in that direction as I realized a year had come and gone already. Nothing like a rainy day, too, of course… ; )

  2. As those wise old “they” say, one can’t deeply appreciate peace of mind if one hasn’t had a broken heart and the turmoil that comes with it.

    i’m glad that you were able to leave the relationship that was injuring your self. i hope your ex is able to find happiness in himself instead of the bottom of a bottle.

    i’m glad you’re able to find peace for yourself.

    Thanks, Naomi! (“They” do have an awful lot to say, don’t they?) : )

  3. So cool finding the rock like that. Lovely post Greg.

  4. (Prosaically) Having grown up in the South and with Southern beaches, I cannot imagine a rock on the beach. But living in the Southern mountains, we have stones like that in many streams, but NEVER on the beach. Amazing.

    As your posts are, and beautiful, in picture and heart.

    Have we got beach rocks for you here…

  5. Tears and hurricanes are cleansing forces of nature.

    My mother always said, as she splashed the witch hazel on scrape and scratch – if it stings you know it’s working. And we always thought ‘there’s got to be an easier way!’ Turns out there wasn’t.

  6. The power of a seascape or landscape sometimes assaults our senses, and when we’re alone we can let it enter unguarded. That open conduit runs both ways, and whatever is inside comes pouring out even as we let in the waves. Beauty and pain run deep, and the response to both is tears. We stand with you in the wind and rain.

  7. In a way, it’s a good sign that you are still mulling over the ten years with Tipsy MacStaggers, because it’s a reminder that not all was bad. Yes, you needed to get out, yes, things are better now, but that time with him wasn’t a mistake. It was just life. I would suspect a certain numbness kicked in as a way to maintain a status quo that wasn’t fitting you well. I think the image of your heart healing is a good one. It might also be that you’re experiencing the pins and needles as numbness continues to wear off.

    Glad you’re feeling better, Pal. That’s the bottom line.

  8. I love the beach, especially in winter when the waves are crashing and there aren’t too many people about.

    Cool pics too. You may be interested in a monthly fun posting that I started in July called “5 on the fifth”. You take 5 random photographs on the fifth of the month and post them somewhere on the net. You then let me know link to the site containing your photos and I update my blog entry so the world has your link.


    Here’s a link to the last “5 on the fifth” posts:

    Hope that you can take part


    Thanks, Stephen, I’ll keep that in mind; I am interested! However, for over a year, I’ve been trying to remember to do “Twelve photos on the 12th”, which hasn’t yet worked out, except maybe by accident. I’ll try to keep the Five/5th idea on my radar, though…who knows, maybe September will see me remembering BOTH. But let’s not hold our breath. ; )

  9. A very poignant post reflecting on this past year. You made the right decision. I’m surprised there weren’t more daredevils out along the shores with you. Your photos really express the vastness that had surrounded you.

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