Mythical Monday: Beware the Ebb Tide

If you’re like most people, the thought of an ebb tide brings a feeling of tranquility. Who doesn’t love to walk along a barren stretch of beach with the glittering hem of the ocean gently receding from shore? The eastern seaboard has been my second home through countless springs, summers, autumns and even winters. I know areas of it as intimately as my own backyard. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve walked on sunbaked beaches or sand cooled by twilight after the sun was swallowed by the vulture-beaked rim of the Atlantic.

I’ve picked up shells, stones, and pieces of driftwood, scattered souvenirs left by the lap and kiss of the receding tide. Although I find those strolls on the beach rejuvenating, the myths of yesteryear would have me believe differently.

In days of yore, people thought an ebb tide capable of draining someone’s spirit. Anyone who dwelled by the sea knew the receding tide would steal the spirit from the body. New ventures were best embraced when the tide was high. By the same token should someone fall ill, their soul was likely to depart with the ebb tide. Plantings of any kind were done when the waters were high so that their essence was not whittled away and carried off by the vanishing waters.

For today’s Mythical Monday, I offer a snippet from a short I wrote many ebb tides ago called Kin-Slayer:

I remember the ocean, glittering with a thousand faceted eyes as sunlight kindled diamonds on its surface, the scent of salt heavy in the air, twined with the black smoke of cooking fires and the reek of fish left to dry beneath the sun. My home was nestled in a simple village. Small and secluded, Ceadon squatted on a bluff overlooking the water, a ragged sphere of thatch-roofed hovels. She was a giddy perch, erected high on a pinnacle of wind-blasted rock. As children, E’ana and I often sat on the edge, watching the tide roll from shore as it carried our father and the other fishermen from sight.  In the evening we would meet them on the beach, anxious to view the day’s catch…seaweed draped pots brimming with lobster and crab; nets so heavy they hugged the sand as the men unloaded a bounty of bluefish and tuna.

It was a simple life, fitting and welcome in those idyllic days of childhood.  But childhood, like all things, fades with the passing of time.

Old wives’ tales and superstitions aside, there is something magical about an ebb tide. The next time you happen upon the soft lap of water on sand, take a moment to appreciate the inherent mystery in the song of the ocean. The symphony is as magnetic and ancient as the corridors of time.

14 thoughts on “Mythical Monday: Beware the Ebb Tide

  1. Mae, the writing of this entry matches the lyrical, rhythmic quality of the sea. So beautiful and evocative! You obviously love the ocean. I have lived along the eastern seaboard, as well, but I prefer the hard-packed sand and gray loneliness of a New England winter beach.

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    • I would love to see New England, Lynne. The farthest I’ve been in that direction is Rhode Island and Massachusetts. I would love to get to the rockier coastlines further north. I do love the ocean and it sounds like you do as well. The beach is colder in the winter but every bit as beautiful.

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      • I spent the first ten years of my life in New Hampshire and would go back in a heartbeat. So close to the ocean, as well as the mountains, which are my true love.

        About twenty years ago, I went on a vacation, alone, to Bar Harbor, Maine. For those that believe in God, they would say that this was a place molded by His hand; for those who believe in the Goddess, she smiles upon this patch of earth, water and sky. It is definitely a place of magic and power–I could feel it in the breath of the wind through the pines, in the roar of the ocean as it crashed against the rocks, in the scent of the salt and the clean earth. There are many places I would like to revisit–some even to stay for the rest of my life–but none calls to me the way the rocky coast of Maine does.

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      • Lynne, Bar Harbor is on my bucket list. I heard it’s absolutely beautiful and, from your descriptions, that sounds indredibly accurate! 🙂

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  2. Another stunning write. I grew up on the eastern seaborad and loved the ocean. Here we have the great lakes, and while great there’re not the sea with the waves and the tides, nor the smell

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    • I’ve seen Lake Michigan, but only from Navy Pier and flying overhead. From what I understand, the Great Lakes are awesome but, yeah, the smell of the ocean conjures magic all its own. Glad you liked this post, Sue!

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  3. The calming sound of the ocean, waves breaking against the sand, cool breeze blowing inland, the sun cresting over the horizon; what a peaceful place God has created for us to enjoy!

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  4. And, I’ll take the Pacific – preferably the central coast of Monterey and Carmel-By-The-Sea, California. The midmorning sun burns off the hazy remnants of fog over Elkhorn Sough, the estuary comes to life in the same way it has for thousands of years. Herons glide over the top of the chilly water, as others scoop up clams from the floor and each step along the reed-edged hiking path sends an unseen critter scuttling loudly into the bush.

    I love walking on the beaches of Big Sur and Carmel. Wind joins clouds and they race across the sky. The wind whirls their fringes into spinning circles, then tears them apart and pulls them into streamers; people compare them to wild mares’ tails.

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    • Absolutely beautiful, Sheri! I feel like I was there walking with you. And the comparison to wild mares’ tails paints a lovely, vivid picture in my head. Stunning!

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  5. That was beautiful Mae! Both the post and the short. You are prose is simply musical. I wish I lived near an ocean. The closest I can get to it is Lake Michigan which is about 15 minutes away. Just doesn’t have mystical beauty, but I can dream 🙂

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    • I think I take the ocean for granted having lived within driving distance all of my life. I’d like to see Mackinaw Island someday in Lake Michigan. I’ve been to Navy Pier in Chicago and was totally overwhelmed by the size of the city. Glass, steel and limos. I felt like someone dumped me in Blade Runner, LOL. So glad you liked this, L.J.!

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