by Amy Shmania, F09
The tide is coming in. I jump off my bike in the dirt parking lot, pull a plastic bag out of my backpack, and scramble down the slippery rip rap to the water. It is already deeper than I had hoped—if I were wearing the requisite Williams-Mystic boots, the water would come pouring over the tops, filling them with the November ocean. But, clad in my gym shorts and sandals, a little more water makes little difference. I grab a clump of Fucus from a rock, and stick it in my bag. Wading through the water, I squint to see the purple shimmer of Chondrus. It’s a treasure hunt. Somewhere, beneath the silver and red light reflected from the sky and my sweatshirt, a patch of Chondrus is hiding. Somewhere near my feet, a little bit of Chondrus is clutching a rock against the pull of the tide. Up in the parking lot above me the people in their winter coats walking their dog pause to look out across the water. They probably wonder if I am planning on going swimming. And why.
The tide is coming in. Seaweeds wake up and stretch. Patches of Fucus and Ascophyllum rise up like forests, brushing against my legs as they dance in the gentle breeze of the waves. A pod of red algae floats back and forth above the seaweed grove. The snails on the rip rap prepare for the spray tickling their shells to gain power, crash against them, and settle into a gentle lull around their bodies. Sifting through the algae with my fingers I see an iridescent glimmer, and pull up some Chondrus. The Ulva I need is holding onto a rock, intertwined with some Fucus. My bag filled with seaweed, I wade back toward the rocks below my bike and scramble up.
The tide is coming in. The wind blows forcefully out to the open water, making little waves on the surface, but the tide pulls faithfully towards the rocks. The sky and the water are covered in low, flat clouds which glisten silver, gray, blue, yellow, in the morning light. A gull sits on a rock piling, facing away from the wind. Out in the bay, buoys—red and white, yellow and green, blue and orange—fight against their tethers. Maybe in the traps below lobsters are contemplating the meals that tempted them to tiptoe in. Maybe they are thinking that it really wasn’t worth it. From the parking lot, safely removed from the waves, the water is calm; the water seems empty, drawn by the invisible tide and pushed by the wind. But in the water, everything is coming to life.