Notes From Costa Rica #3

First the tide rushes in
Plants a kiss on the shore
Then rolls out to sea
And the sea is very still once more...

Ebb Tide by Carl Sigman and Robert Maxwell, 1953

Walking down my new favorite beach in the world at Esterillos Oeste, the hugely wide, almost totally deserted beach that stretches for miles, I feel totally at peace.  The tide is out so I have a humongous stretch of  beautiful wet surface, as wide as two football fields that looks like a sheet of ice and feels all mine.  I'm walking where a few hours ago there were huge waves and dozens of surfers. 

That is the magic of the tides, and the reminder that I knew so little about the shifting tides before  beach walking at low tide became my daily ritual. 

When I arrived here a couple of weeks ago, the tide was low approaching dusk, which seemed wondrous, but soon it was too dark. The low tide was headed into the night. But fortunately, the other low tide of the 24 hour period was emerging in the early morning. And I needed to adjust.  As Wikipedia explains: "during the day, the Earth rotates 180 degrees in 12 hours. The moon, meanwhile, rotates 6 degrees around the earth in 12 hours. The twin bulges and the moon's rotation mean that any given coastal area experiences a high tide every 12 hours and 25 minutes or so." Or low tides in my case. The high tides are what the surfers want. 

What is it about the ocean, the beaches, the tides that has such a strong pull on so many millions, including me?   I've never been able to be far away from the ocean for any length of time in my entire life.  -- there was one 18 month period in Western Massachusetts and another short period in DC, but that's pretty close to the ocean.

I've always felt claustrophobic in the hinterlands.  

My life as been a series of beaches -- growing up with the Jersey Shore:  Pt Pleasant,, Seaside, and then Long Beach Island.  The Cape for the post college psychedelic rolls down the dunes in Wellfleet, and then to the fresh water ponds in Truro to clean off the salt and sand. The many summers in the Hamptons -- the beauty of  Bridgehampton, Sag Harbor etc.   Then when  away from NYC -- it was always  San Francisco on the Left Coast

 the Bay Bridge and the Golden Gate and  South to the great Santa Monica beaches. Vacations were almost  always with more beaches -- Jamacia. Thailand, St; Johns,  St. Lucia,  Puerto Rico, St Thomas, The Dominican Republic, and on and on. "Life is a beach," some one once said. 

And there are tides in music, in books, etc., best represented IMHO with  the classic  Ebb Tide, written in 1953.  I thought I had my favorite version -- The Platters from 1960, which feels like the true classic Ebb Tide - on my i Pod;  But only Frank Sinatra's version was there,  which is surprisingly robust. It was when the crooner was still young, in 1958.   The Righteous Brothers, has the most successful Ebb Tide, which hit # 5 on the top 40 charts, in 1965, listed in that uniquely American music genre of "blue eyed soul. "

AlterNet / By Don Hazen

Posted at May 10, 2012, 9:07am

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