I don’t know when I became a creature of the tides, but I am. Growing up in landlocked Indiana, tides were not something we ever considered. We learned about them in school, probably all of a few minutes in a science class discussing the moon, but when you live at the edge of the continent like we do here, you become acutely aware that the ocean isn’t like KenRay Lake. It’s forever in motion.
Of course, the tides are not just on the ocean. Everywhere you go here, there is evidence of the tides. Downtown on the river, along with the rising and lowering river levels, I can watch the daymarks on the river lean one way or the other depending on if the tide is ebbing or flooding. The river runs so slowly from south to north that, when the tide is running in from the ocean, the daymarks all lean upstream, and reverse when the tide is at ebb. Sailors that need to run their displacement hull boats in the river do well to wait until the tide is in their favor to greatly decrease their running time. I’ve never seen anything quite like the tide making the river flow backwards like it does here … but there it is.
Of course, here at the beach, the tides are very much a part of life. Andie says she loves the smell of low tide, when all the marsh muck is exposed to the air. To her, it smells like home. Musky and salty and acrid. I’ll admit, I’m coming to like it as well. And the way life changes when the tide is out can be fascinating. The snowy egret above is working the low tide in search of some tasty fish or crustacean. The tidal change here is between 4 and 5 feet most days, as you can tell from the bank of the creek where I shot that picture. It can make boating challenging occasionally. The water in the Intercoastal Waterway can get a little thin at low tide, and you have to pretty much stay in the channel to be sure you don’t go aground.
The tides become a part of you when you live at the beach, whether you know it or not. I don’t think you can live on a barrier island and not become a creature of the tides. Launching and recovering the boat becomes a challenge at low tide, particularly for those using the launching ramp. At the marina, it’s just because they haven’t dredged for a long time, but I understand that should change soon. They say the fish bite not at a specific time of day, but rather when the tide is slack, or on an incoming tide if you’re fishing the jetties. If you’re as in love with the water as I am, the tides becomes a major part of the things you love. But whether or not you notice it, it’s a part of life at the beach, and one of the things that make living at the lands end so special.
I love living near the ocean.