Washing up on a beach strikes us as powerful. The beachfront is a point of arrival, an event, a spectacle. The site where life first emerged from the oceanic abyss. Where creations are left for dead or leave to kill. An actual horizon you can stand on. Everything arriving and departing. Stay to watch the mini course of things, or pass through the coarseness thereof. All in due time.
Unlike the riverbank where our attention is drawn to ever evading water, the beachfront is level. We arrive and meet the subtle, timeless interaction of shore and sea, gravel and water, the weathering tide. Things that crawl and cast off will come and they will go, but the crashing over the coastline will continue.
The largest things washing ashore in our time are freighters and beached whales: our machines combusting and mammalian cousins. The tide abides regardless of whatever might displace land and sea in discrete seconds and epochs. Solids and liquids continuously cascade to and fro, under and over one another intimately, but not romantically; sexually, but not sentimentally. It’s strangely oblivious for being the very foundation of all that occurs there.
Beaches are generously generic, but we set our sights on two types: the shingle beach and the beachside dune. Shingle and sand and all that’s on land. We see all sand together at once in infinity. It’s all grains – a granular group. The shingle beach is more of a grab bag. Each rock is perceivably different – different enough for each to be cherished on its own fine time. The difference between the shingle and the dune is of the utmost importance, a miraculous mirage.