The road running along behind the beach is glistening with light rain. On either side the vegetation has the wild and ragged look it develops when it has weathered years of howling wind and blown salt sea spray.
Out of the car, on with a padded jacket, down the soft pathway, over the last mound. One eyes leap forward to a misted horizon. Behind the white tumble of logs across more glistening sand, out to the first line of foam, then across the endless heaving desert that rolls across the next quarter of the planet. Immensity, calm but alive. A poet once spoke of the ocean as the mingling of "endless peace with endless agitation.
Strange how it never loses its fascination. William Wordsworth has immortalized the mysterious way in which a shell, picked from the earth far from the coast and placed to the ear, can bring to us the sound of this infinitely distant ocean…
I have seen
A curious child, who dwelt upon a tract
Of inland ground, applying to his ear
The convolutions of a smooth-lipped shell;
To which in silence hushed, his very soul
Listened intensely ; and his countenance soon
Brightened with joy; for from within were heard
Murmurings , whereby the monitor expressed
Mysterious union with its native sea.
So, Wordsworth wrote, probably seeing in his mind's eye the wild and cold North Sea coast. Where I stand beside this other ocean, the mist continues to drift warmly past my face as we head back for Wickaninish and the distant windblown trees.