Some days are magical, some might call them, “Heaven sent.”
I’ve been struggling through these MORBID-COVID days, these police/protest-teargas days, these pooch-frightening fireworks days…and nights.
As most of you know, when I get into these gray zones, I head to the sea. It’s usually feet-in-the-sand, toe-caressing surf that works best for me.
I know many of you don’t live by the shore, and to those I say, in these times of sadness…get thee to the sea.
I usually get there before the day-trippers, before the sun is high enough to tan before the lifeguards whistle and warn.
But this year, my routine differs. My swim of a half mile three times a week has ceased with pool closings. Years ago, the ocean taught me that I was no match, a lesson ending in unbelievable relief by finally making it to shore…again.
So I’ve been biking more to make up for my lack of laps.
Biking the boards is different too. This year, you need to be off the boardwalk by 10:00 a.m. to allow more social distance for strollers, joggers, and such.
An early part of my morning involves us walking our pooch, Scout, in very happy hours.
So I’ve been getting on the boards by 7:30 or so. By then, the sun is already high and hot this time of year, and too many other bikers are in my way or passing me, well, mostly passing me.
But these last few days I’ve found more than a glimpse of happiness in the earlier morn, even in the evening.
This Saturday morning, I hit the boards at 5:10. I thought I’d be the only one up there, sweet innocence.
It was Saturday morning, but to some, it was still Friday night in Long Beach. Late-hour detritus announced the night’s celebration: a Solo cup on the bike lane, a Dunkin Donuts bag and box on a bench, a discarded donut tossed. Not too bad for a 2.2-mile length of boardwalk.
Farther along, a man sat on a bench next to his bike, looking out to sea. A couple on a lifeguard stand, scanned the vista, too. As I peddled, I looked to the sea, no need to worry about others in front of me, there were no others in front of me.
The beauty was indescribable, but my inadequate words I will offer. My first thought was, “like a painting.” Then I realized how foolish to compare the real with the paint representation. An artist hopes to capture this magic, but paint can never produce this power, this power of being in the frame. Nor a photograph.
I noticed the color to the east, the earliest sun on the clouds. Sails of pink floated into the gray of dawn—a pink of hope; much like this morning was for me.
Emotion pulled me to sea like a riptide: the ocean’s horizon, ethereal, a gray softness of sea kissing sky. I was part of it. I was with it.
Now, seeing the sea in these wee hours is a common practice for many. I know Long Beach photogs who surf the sand, camera in hand, every morning, with magnificent photos to share.
Oceanfront residents see these masterpieces every morning from their terraces, if they’re up. My condo faces north, in the lee of the sea, so such morning bliss is rare.
But more than one oceanfront dweller told me, “After a while, it’s like a painting on the wall, you get used to it.” I don’t know about that. But abscence does make the heart grow fonder. Maybe that’s why morning seascapes have such power for my unjaded eyes. I don’t witness majesty so often. So when I do, I’m horny for it.
Maybe this morning was especially so; the daily news had bulldozed and flattened the curve of my joy. The TV CORVID charts climbing like Everest: tests-postive, up, hospitalizations, up, ventilations, intubations, deaths. Each level on the graph, a morbid mountain plateau.
So, sea sights give me sweet succor.
Saturday morning life began to awaken. Riptide’s restaurant prepared to open, hoisting their flag and banners:
It didn’t take long for more people to pound or bike the boards, first a jogger, then another biker, then a walker.
These were no doubt regulars to this early happy hour of bliss. Just a glance, and I’d get a wave or a nod or a smile; they were a very friendly club. And I was welcomed to the club.
The morning was powerful to me. I used to think we were all the same in feeling our environment, whether woods, sea…or each other. Through the years I’ve learned it’s not the case, we feel in degrees, some, not so much; others, like me, you may have gathered, a bit more.
Saturday night I was still savoring my predawn happy hour when I went back up to the boards for a rare evening walk.
We were between storms in Long Beach; the boards were wet from the first, the second lingered offshore in the sunset. And this time cumulonimbus pinks greeted me.
I spotted lights on the sand near the steps to the beach. I thought it was a memorial of some kind, so I walked down the steps. There the lights bordered a white cloth path strewn with rose petals.
A smiling young lady whispered to me through the railing, as if she knew me, “She’s coming.” I said, “Who’s coming?” She pointed to her ring finger, then up to the boardwalk, again saying, “She’s coming,” anticipation lit up her face. I climbed back up the steps.
A young couple arrived and the smiling lady escorted them to the runway of lights.
The event I stumbled on was like a dramatic movie set but more potent, it was naturally occurring, not the “magic” of special effects.
The couple neared the far end of the petalled path, faced each other, and hugged.
The man soon knelt, in classic form:
The lady bent to kiss him—an apparent, yes.
A confluence of events came together for this young couple, perhaps a portent of a magical life together.
They walked a rose-petal path spread from the hearts of loved ones.
He knelt before his sweetheart in the form performed by millions before him, not many of those were wrapped in such enchantment.
Enchantment filled the salt flavored air, magic was in the sunset’s pink and purple , the moon, directly overhead, the offshore storm splashing lightning across the sea…as thunder applauded.
Had but a choir of angels sang, I’d have dropped to my knees myself…in tears of Hallelujah.