Nature’s gift can bring serenity if we just take time to look

A few weeks ago, I attended a work conference with my husband. I was the trailing spouse, which meant I could relax and enjoy myself while he attended CPA classes.

A free vacation sounded good to me, especially after these past 24 months.

Yet little did I know just how restorative this trip would be. And I owe it all to the ocean.

The hotel television included a channel where one could just watch the waves come in and out at a nearby rocky beach on the property. After tuning in the evening before, I set out my first morning to find this cove and see if it really was as captivating as it appeared on TV.

The air was chilly. I put on my sweatsuit, laced up my sneakers and pointed myself in the direction of the ocean. It didn’t take me long to find the trail to the cove.

There was a small footpath beyond a fenced area where one could sit on a rock and watch the waves. I sat there watching the waves come in, and then over time I realized the waves pulled back too.

It reminded me of one of my spelling words in grammar school—undulate—defined as “to move back and forth in a wavelike motion.” I only remember this word as my childhood friend Charlene and I laughed hysterically as we swung our hips from side to side in a Marilyn Monroe like sashay to forever cement the word in our vocabulary.

Back to the ocean.

I realized that, even knowing this word from fourth grade, I still thought waves only moved toward the shore and the only time they moved away from shore was when a tsunami was coming.

I watched the beautiful choreography of the ocean as it performed nature’s dance. It was meditative.

At one point a flock of birds following the line of the shore caught my eye. The flock looked just like a smaller version of the pterodactyls from “Jurassic Park.”

I later looked them up: They were magnificent frigate birds. If they don’t look like a modern-day pterodactyl, nothing does.

Following them a few minutes later, a flock of smaller birds flew by in the same direction. And after them, a flock of gulls. I counted the birds in each set, and in almost every case they were comprised of an odd number of birds.

The next day when I took my husband to this enchanted spot, I shared with him my odd-number theory, and we watched as almost every group that flew by—you guessed it—had an odd number of birds.

Next, on that first morning, I spotted three people in diving gear, carefully climbing down the rock slope to the water’s edge, where they dove in and swam out to some large kelp beds.

I had read that the kelp “forest” here was home to more than 715 different species of aquatic life. I watched the divers swim from bed to bed. I was not fully sure what they were doing but enjoyed watching them work.

By the time I looked at my phone, I realized two hours had gone by. I could hardly believe I had not been tempted to look at my phone, to think about work, some other responsibility or the world situation that normally filled my mind.

My cove visit, which I did every day for the three days while I was at the resort, was tremendously healing and soothing, and gave me back some of the serenity that had been taken from me these past two years.

I realize we probably all need to do this more, whether it is time spent at a secluded part of a beach, a stream, a park or a forest. Even just watching all the life teeming in a patch of grass will connect us to nature and bring us some necessary respite from this crazy world.

Nature is a gift. We just need to make time for it.

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Andrea GallagherAndrea Gallagher

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