Tuesday, 14 November 2017

The Sea

I see the sea just about every day, and sometimes don’t really look at it.  But I know it’s there, it’s an integral part of each day, and life revolves around it in one way or another.  It influences my everyday quality of life in ways I often don’t appreciate, and I could live nowhere else.

The sea is never the same, and invokes in me lots of feelings; beauty, safety, fear, respect, and many more.  I feel at home and comforted by it, and can’t imagine living inland.  Maybe belonging to an island race makes us creatures of the sea. It’s in our history, has saved us over and over again from foreign invasion, and makes us different from our neighbours on the Continent.

I know a lot about the terrestrial world, but very little about what lives under the sea.  When younger, I snorkelled in the kelp forest just offshore, but have no real appreciation of the abundant life hidden from view just a few yards away from the cliffs.  Its wellbeing is under threat like never before, and only now are we waking up to this. I wonder how many visitors to Gower are aware of this hidden world.

We get lots of gales from the Atlantic, and forecasting the weather here is a mixture of listening to the radio, local knowledge, and a good slice of luck. We have microclimates; it can be raining just a mile or so inland, and dry on the coast, or sunny inland when we’re covered in cold coastal fog.

Sitting on the rocks by the shore, a constant gentle hiss, and the sound of pounding surf is more or less all I can hear. No sounds reach me from the land, and there’s a feeling of the wild. A gull cries, turnstones call as they zip along the shore, and an oystercatcher, hidden in some crevice gives itself away.  Wilderness is difficult to find anywhere now, but here I can escape the man-made world. 

There’s order and disorder.  Waves roll in one after the other in a more or less regular fashion, but creating chaos as they crash onto the rocks to form myriads of tiny wavelets moving in all directions.  As the tide recedes it leaves behind replenished mirror-like rock pools, and there’s order again.  Little seems to move, but beneath the surface of the pools, there’s life everywhere.  Barnacles, periwinkles and whelks come to life, tiny shrimps dart about, and sea anemones open to feed. 

The sea responds to the sky, and the light is never the same.  It’s mostly cloudy today, creating a greenish grey hue on the surface of the water.  Shafts of light cascade through the greyness, forming pools of silver too bright to look at.  As the clouds move, so too do the pools of light, disappearing as quickly as they came. On other days, the sea is a mesmerising deep blue, or even emerald green, but it’s always magic.

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