Back when I was a child, puttering around on the coast of Maine in small boats, I spent countless hours discovering how wind, tide and current affected the boat. We’d row down the coast toward the gut, where a one lane wooden planked bridge allowed access from our island to an even smaller one. That’s how it goes on the coast that’s dotted with over 4,500 islands. Lots of water, bridges, and peninsulas.
There were days when the row home was up wind and against the tide. It took all my energy and might to get back, and I learned quickly. Rowing with the wind and current was much easier.
Getting down to the gut at low tide meant finding treasured razor clam shells and sand dollars that weren’t under eight to eleven feet of water, and I would reach over the side of the boat and grab them. Getting out of the boat could be dicey if the bottom was muddy and not sandy or rocky, so we mostly stayed in.
Rowing with little to no wind was always easiest, and we figured out when it was best to keep the boat tied up. Those were some wet and tiring lessons!
With a large tide, high tide meant being able to row over hidden rocks, and because they were exposed during low tide, I learned every one. Low tide was a little bit more dicey because it wasn’t until an extremely low tide that we discovered a few more kelp covered boulders and ledges.
Over the years, I learned our stretch of the coast and learned how to navigate tides and currents. Navigating around rocks was easy once you knew where they were, as they don’t move. Sand does and that’s a story for another day. Thankfully, there’s not much sand on the coast of Maine.
Tides move massive amounts of water around the planet, like breathing in and out. They move up and down, here and there. And they are fairly regular, coordinating their movement with the gravity of the moon instead of our sun.
Life here recently has been nothing like the tides in Maine. It’s not been regular, normal, or dependable. There have been times when the water felt like it was going to swallow me whole, and other times when the tide went out so far I didn’t know if it was ever going to come back in. In between, I’ve rarely felt buoyed.
The most extreme tides happen during a full moon and a new moon, and with the recent passage of a new moon, things within me are finally shifting and changing enough that it feels like the tide is turning.
The fog is clearing up a bit in my head. The wind feels like it’s beginning to return to my sails, at least a little bit. And it feels like the force ten gale that brought me to my knees a few weeks ago is finally moving out to sea.
How long will this respite between storms go on? I have no earthly idea. But I really and truly hope the worst has passed. It feels like the tide has turned.