Tide

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For a month now, I’ve been watching the tide. At first, I just thought the water was low and the stinking mud flats were a constant state. That was before we moved to our new high rise home at the tip of the Burrard Inlet. Now, I notice the dark water creeping in, spilling up to the skirts of the crowded, leaning woods twice a day. I love the sight of the seeping water, like tipped ink thirstily bleeding into a tablecloth. When the flats are full, drowned by this sudden flood, everything is fulfilled and looks lush. Sailboats swiftly dominate the surface. Ocean vessels proceed.

Later, or perhaps in the morning, I will notice the water receding. At first, I’m not sure which way it is moving. Tiny waves lap the shore and confuse me, like an optical illusion. Like tires that appear to be spinning backwards when a vehicle is speeding down the highway. But then the telltale streams appear, chasing the tidal front back toward the ocean. The mud appears again, looking smooth and soft and glossy. I feel a sense of loss, a peeling, a stripping of the land. But then birds rush in, crows bathe in the streams and herons feed. Life emerges. From up here, the tiny streams meet in a rivulet, like threads twisted into a cord, like an enormous placenta print on the land. A promise of life and rebirth and nature’s endless cycle.

I go on with my day, my own quiet cycle of consuming and tidying and working and walking. Then suddenly I notice its return. I don’t know if I feel the breeze first, or smell the scent of the sea, that hint of half-dried shellfish and rotting plant life being rehydrated. But I inevitably look out the window or off the balcony and see it happening. The determined waters press in alarmingly fast, leaving only peninsulas of muck, where children and dogs still explore. A little while later, it’s only the grassiest bits of shore that remain. Everything rests again, under water.

To think up to this point in my life, I was more or less oblivious of the tide, this force. Now I can’t ignore it. It draws me in with it, and deposits me again with each cycle, somewhat more aware, waterlogged, yet thirsty.

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