Hello Darkness My Old Friend I’ve Come to Talk With You Again*
The Atlantic Coast, long before sunrise. I like the dark.
Running down the beach strand, your footsteps are silent, little sound in the sand, what sound there is overcome by the waves. It is sort of like running on air, no footstep noise. I can see the swash but little else.
The pods of porpoise are already up and working the shoreline, barely visible in the not yet morning sunrise. A comforting sight.
A couple of stray dogs. Or maybe one stray runner?
One old brown lab, long in the tooth, white in the face. We stop to chat he and I, a chance encounter. I pat his head and scratch beneath his narrow fuzzy chin. He looks deeply into my eyes and gives that old tail a mighty wag. We are both good to go now. Smiling.
A young couple intertwined, in front of the dunes. Out very late or up very early. One is a woman, the other, I can’t tell and it isn’t my business anyhow.
A woman doing yoga or tai chi towards the rising but not yet visible sun. Graceful. Peaceful.
Flocks of shore birds resent my running through their now shredded ranks. Off they go but not without scolding me for disturbing their beauty sleep.
Fisherman starting to bait up. Never too early for beer.
Wind surfers standing around, hoping for a bigger breeze and some daylight. They’ll get both.
Pelicans soar silently in formation, more than I can count.
Sand crabs race me to their burrows. They always win.
Hotel lights glow steadily in the distance down the beach. Trawler lights bounce out there, somewhere. A tall ship heads out from behind the breakwater at the Navy base. Godspeed.
Heat lightning to the south, dancing across the clouds, totally silent. Best Fourth of July light show ever.
Pull off into the dunes for a short “break.” Mosquitos. Everywhere, remnants of standing water from Tropical Storm Debby last week.
A nature trail in the dunes parallels the beach. An enormous old land tortoise doesn’t change course at all.
Back to the beach.
A helicopter flies low, in a hurry, off to the north.
Shells deposited by the last high tide (last night, it was a spring tide) “crunch” under my feet.
46 minutes, turn around. Take a deep pull from the water bottle. Glad I put ice in there. And never underestimate a good spray of icy water on your head and the back of your neck.
A huge white-pink moon is setting over there.
A very red sun is starting its assent over here.
Runners begin to appear. We wave the wave of kinship.
GET RID OF THOSE IDIOTIC HEADPHONES!
Six fighter jets in formation, very loud! By the time you hear them, they are already gone.
The wind is in my face now. A tender mercy.
Kids laughing in the waves.
Walkers I passed going the other way more than an hour ago say: “Hey, it is you again!”
The sun is up, the night has passed.
The ancient seas roll on.
“It’s elevating and humbling at the same time.
Running along a beach at sunrise
with no other footprints in the sand,
you realize the vastness of creation,
your own insignificant space in the plan,
how tiny you really are . . . .”
(Sister Marion Irvine, also known as the Running Nun)
*Paul Simon, The Sound Of Silence, 1964.