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Oceanography, Part Two

In the previous post I wrote about what I was thinking as I photographed the designs left by the sea upon the sand. But I was also reminded of a short story that I had read in my youth – In a Season of Calm Weather, by Ray Bradbury. In the story, George Smith, vacationing with his wife in France, is excited to hear that Picasso (an artist of whom George is an ardent fan) is rumored to be staying with friends nearby. On an evening walk alone on the beach, he runs across a man drawing pictures in the sand with an ice-cream stick. George is awestruck, as he realizes that these fantastical images must be by the hand of the great Picasso. The man drawing realizes that he is not alone, and stops. He smiles at George, shrugs (as if to say “Please forgive the foolishness of an old man”), and walks away down the beach. George has no idea what to do. Run back to the hotel to fetch his camera? Too late. After a minute he did the only thing he could do – he paced back and forth across the beach desperately trying to commit the images to memory, until the light faded and he could see no more.

Later, back at the hotel, his wife asks him what’s wrong. He turned his head and shut his eyes for a moment.

“Listen,” he said. She listened.

“I don’t hear anything,” she said.

“Don’t you?”

“No. What is it?”

“Just the tide,” he said, after a while, sitting there, his eyes still shut. “Just the tide, coming in.”

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