The sand felt heavy under my toes this morning, as I took my morning walk along the beach. Heavy, cool and damp from the rains overnight. The beach is my haven and I find it fascinating for the daily routines of people and nature that can be observed if one looks closely.
There are the elderly ladies that take their early morning swim at the southern end of the beach. I watch as they gingerly dip their wrinkled toes in the water and wade out beyond the small waves, their hair as white as clouds and fragile arms held out for balance. There was an elderly couple today and I could see how the years had moulded them into one. The gentleman didn’t so much as let go of his lady once whilst they stumbled through the larger waves. Such is a love that lasts a lifetime. I admired their courage (these waters are cold), their love and sense of togetherness.
There are the dog walkers with woofs of all shapes and sizes. I find myself veering towards them if I like the look of their dog – heaven only knows if they think I am stalking them or have some weird obsession and can’t walk in a straight line. I adore the companionship of dogs and was lucky enough to meet a sparky and proud Irish Terrier today. He was a corker; all wiry copper blonde hair, wet gum drop nose and ears pricked and ready for action. His name…Fluff. I bumped into the owner of this dog on my return home and he proudly presented me with his wife and the words “I’ve brought my other Irish Terrier along this time”. How we laughed, even his wife.
There is the man with the ball. The ruby red ball and the ever present smile on his face. I see him every day on his own with his cherished ball. He spends hours playing with this shiny bouncing ball; kicking it round, tossing it in the air and he always looks so content. I wonder what brought him to this? He even takes his ball for a swim and can often be seen swimming with the ball by his side. Evidently it is an excellent swimming companion and always handy for a float.
I have made it my mission to say good morning to everyone I pass on the beach and wish them well for the day. I know how much it brightens my day when people do this for me. It was met with a mixed response and today I counted at least 5 people that looked at me as if I were insane and promptly moved on without a word or hint of recognition. Thankfully Irish Terrier Man and his jovial nature more than made up for them. And these are just the people….
Two giant jellyfish had been washed up with the tide; plump as wood pigeons, glistening in the sun like amethyst jewels and nestled on the sand. One of them was being nibbled by snails with shells shaped like ice-cream cones and I watched other snails making their way slowly across the sand to join the feast. These snails were long-distance travellers indeed…I picked up all the snails I could find and put them on their jellyfish and watched them nibbling away contentedly. I wonder if they knew I had helped them.
I bumped into Prince again today, sitting in the sunshine making his bead animals. It makes me sad that he is instantly recognisable for the slippers on his feet and the tattered t-shirt he wears every day. We got to chatting on the bright red bench facing the ocean and he gave me a gift. He had made me a photograph holder from beads and wire, inscribed with my name and the shape of a shark. He told me how he was going to throw the beads and wire away last time we met, as he felt they were worthless, but after I had told him he couldn’t waste such beautiful beads he kept them and made this gift. His thought and kindness made my day and he won’t accept any payment or charity from me. We have agreed a commission for someone very dear to me but even then he haggled the price down. I listened as he talked of his dreams, how he isn’t sure what to do with his life and I just wished I could do more for him. We shared funny stories and jokes and laughed out loud at the stares of others passing by.
But I can’t help wondering, is my listening ear really enough? Is it enough to just smile, listen and offer words of encouragement to everyone in the hope that it will change their world just for a moment? I’d like to think it is and I leave you with this.