“The illimitable, silent, never-resting thing called Time – rolling, rushing on, swift, silent, like an all-embracing ocean-tide.”
Here in the lowcountry, life is dictated by the ebb and flow of the tides. Illustrated above, a beautiful sunrise highlights the marsh grasses as seawater flows into the creeks at high tide. Our normal tides will vary by up to 6′ on a given day – this past September historic flooding resulted from a combination of record-setting rainfall and an incredible 9’4″ high tide. So when I saw this week’s Time challenge, my thoughts turned quickly to the life-altering link between time and tides.
“The tides do not command the ship. The sailor does.”
Ogwo David Emenike
I’ve posted about the beloved bottle-nosed dolphins in our coastal marshes, and in particular about their very unique stranding behavior. Those of us who are fascinated by this behavior and have been lucky enough to observe it know that the dolphins strand most frequently at peak high and low tides. Their feeding behavior is driven by the arrival and departure of the mullet who are most plentiful at those times.
“Love is the tide that pulls out to sea, but always returns to kiss the shore at sunrise.”
Shannon L. Alder
Like the dolphins, the lives of our beautiful birds – all manner of egrets, herons, spoonbills, gulls, hawks, eagles, and so many more – are dependent on the affects of the changing tides. At low tide wading birds aggressively work the nutrient-rich pluff mud to feast on the tiny creatures living there. Soaring osprey and bald eagles fish for bigger game as tidal waters bring larger prey within their grasp.
“When you draw a line in the sand, be careful it is not low tide.”
One thing local residents know for certain – Mother Nature will definitely have her way with you 😊. Recently she decided to create a channel through our beach at the far east end of our 10-mile island. At low tide one could walk across the beach to explore the other side. Many learned the hard way that the return trip was impossible if one did not pay attention to the cycle of the tides. The channel has since been closed after the town invested in renourishing the area with 100,000 cubic yards of sand. We shall see how long Mother Nature allows the sand to remain in place.
“Time and tide wait for no man.”
The best example I’ve ever seen of the power of the tides and their impact over time was my visit to perennial photographers’ favorite Botany Bay in nearby Edisto, SC. Scenes such as the one above made it quite clear that the trees were losing their battle against the rising tides, and with each passing hour their fate became ever more obvious. Sadly, we learned recently that the beach had eroded so much that visitors were no longer allowed access. I’ll stay apolitical here, but it’s difficult not to think about Global Warming when such events draw our attention.
Time, like the tide, marches on. Rather than make futile attempts to stop it, the better choice is to make the most of it. To quote Mother Teresa ““Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.”
** NOTE: The “time and tides” quote has been attributed in many different forms to several different authors. Most often it is noted as having first been used in its present form by Chaucer in his 1395 Prologue to the Clerk’s Tale.