Must have been a big night at the beach for the gulls, for those around me are sleeping it off. Soft feather rounds of white and cloud-gray, gracefully they curl their necks to tuck beaks beneath wings. Gentle ripples of lace-edged blue water brush the sand while further out, glints of sunshine dance on the Sound’s dips and peaks.
Over the past few days, I have found myself humming as I sponge counters, fold laundry, drive, or walk in the woods. Today as I stroll the beach, the soft rumble of a song vibrates in my throat, with no conscious direction on my part. I assume it’s a good sign to be moved to music, an indication that the drone of must-dos has been superseded by quiet joy. So what has my heart punched in on my inner juke box? I don’t immediately know, have to let the rumble play on a bit while I process the rhythm. John Lennon. Recognition of the artist comes first, then the tune, “Love, love, love…” Pleased by my selection and the frame of mind reflected, I continue on, noting the scatter of shells at the water’s-edge and the wedge-shaped prints of my seagull companions.
Milky jingle shells of peach, lemon, and cream, fragile in their flavorful colors, mingle with eggplant-purple mussels and brown and white speckled rock-a-bye baby shells. I cup one hand to hold the start of a collection.
A flash of green stops me: beach glass, rare in this age of recycling. As a child, during summers in Weekapaug, hours passed with sisters and friends scouring the sands for remnants of soft drink bottles and those of our fathers’ favorite beers. We’d call out the colors as we found them, “White!” “Brown!” “Aqua!” All of those bottles of Schlitz, Miller and Coke, broken, tumbled, and rounded by rolling waves and sand. Occasionally, we’d happen upon gems of red, blue or purple from Milk of Magnesia and old apothecary jars.
Laddered white lifeguard stands facing the sea seem still to keep watch despite empty seats. Ferries to and from Bridgeport and Port Jeff cut through the water. A clutch of gulls, adolescents, I think, gaze toward the horizon, contemplative as any beach-goer. In their brown and white speckled feathers, Nature, with her keen sense of flow and design, has painted them the same pattern as the rock-a-bye babies.
The sun shimmers silken strands of light as I bend, still humming my song of human harmony, to pick up a snow-white clamshell. Step, step, splash, step, reach for a shell, step, splash, hum. “Love, love, love…” And suddenly, I am suffused with wonder, for someone before me – a child pausing from turning cartwheels? A smitten teen? An adult, like me, moved by an inner song? - has spelled a word with shells in the sand: “LOVE.” Yes, love! I can almost hear the heavenly horn section blaring its brassy accompaniment as the Universe smiles, and beaming, I walk on.