I've found myself thinking a lot about this transition I've leaped into and how it has me experiencing life in three distinct ecosystems ... all beautiful but very different; the ocean, the lake and soon, the mountains.
Having grown up on the beach there are sounds and smells that instantly take me back to the care-free days of being a little girl in the summer. The cry of a seagull that ricochets off the buildings and careens down streets of the Old Port in Portland. Storms on the ocean were never just wind and rain, there was always the background noise of crashing waves against the rocks or the sucking and tinkling sound of those storm waves receding from the beach as they drag sand and beach stones with them.
After these big fall or winter storms the beach would be carpeted with Surf, or Hen, clams that had been hauled out of their deep-sandy holes just off shore only to be thrown up onto the beach and abandoned as the tide pulled away. At those times my siblings and I would head down to the beach with plastic white and blue buckets banging against our shins as we picked these clams, the size of a diary farmer's hands, from the sand, inspecting them for their liveliness (if they pull their shell closed tight when lifted they're still very much alive) and drop them into our buckets, leaving the dead ones for the gulls who skittered ahead of us. Taking our prizes home we'd wash them as best we could, dad and my brother would shuck them and mom would make them into clam chowder. This is a very big, tough clam so they are only good if chopped up fine and put into that stewing broth of milk, butter, and potatoes.
The Maine coast has it's own unique smell. The west coast beaches do not have this ripe, salty-brine aroma to them. I don't know what it is, the cold waters harboring more life and thus more decay at their low tides? Maybe. But that smell of rotting seaweed is so sweet to me, so much a part of beach combing, body surfing and long walks on the beach. Many years ago my good friend from Boston, who went to acupuncture school with me, moved up to Portland to begin her practice in the same office suite with me. Rather than being competitors we were a wonderful support system to each other as we learned how to market and grow a private practice. Nancy found a little cottage on "my" beach where we would frequently meet to go for walks together. One day after a big storm there was a lot of detritus left rotting after a particularly low tide. Nancy gagged and said, "God, that is such a horrible smell!" This might have been the first time I realized that not everyone likes the smell of rotting seaweed!
Or the time she and I were walking that beach in a pea-soup fog, unable to see more that 2 steps ahead of ourselves. With the tide low we couldn't see the houses that sit high in the sand dunes, nor could we see the waves that we could hear lapping somewhere off to our left. There were no landmarks of any kind. I told her how much I have always loved walking in the fog on a beach at low tide, without the ability to see forward or backward it was really a moment of being very present; unable to see the future or what lies ahead and equally blind to where we had just come from, thus no past behind us. The only thing that existed in the gray mist was just her and I and the next step taken in the sand.
I'm trying to be present like this now as Dave and I work on renovating this big, old house, as I enter into an established practice that belongs to another acupuncturist, as we live beside the lake and commute thirty minutes to and from our small town in the mountains. Unable to see the future we keep taking steps without any land marks to guide us, just our own knowing that this is the right direction for us to be going in.
Loving you all back,
To be continued ... THE LAKE