Spring on land is the time of greening, when porcupines poke about in search of tender shoots, when peepers sing in vernal pools, and woodcocks soar at twilight. The relief of winter's passing draws my gaze into forests and fields, to savor the return of color after a too-long winter of cold and white and ice.
But every spring I also like to turn the other way, and open up my ears toward the sea. Tonight, a falling tide at dusk brings a unique orchestral suite of bird sound, waves, and wind. As the tide recedes, slow-moving molluscs, crustaceans, and echinoderms gradually lose their protective cover, exposing them to hungry sea birds who, having gone without a meal for hours, have one last chance today to eat. The air quickly fills with the sounds of frantic negotiations, as laughing gulls, herring gulls, and black-backed gulls sort out among themselves who gets what before the darkness falls.
I'm torn between which side to take: the gull who needs her meal to live to see another day, or the mussel who has no hope to flee? And what of me, the well-fed bystander, safely standing on the shore, enveloped by this tragic beauty?
I wish all these fragile creatures well, but choose the waves: for they have learned what lasts.