crystal cove rock pool

Lessons from a rock pool

August 30, 2021

From a distance

The world looks blue and green…

urchins in rock pool

   The frustrating thing is how beautiful it all still looks. You sit out here on a beachfront cottage porch with the blue green tide rolling in on golden sand, sea birds winging, dolphins playing past on the near horizon and the golden sun sending a streak of diamonds on top of ice blue waves. But we know that idyllic scene is but an illusion to the reality going on just below all these surface images. The fires, the melting ice, the rising sea levels. Smoke on the water. Will we survive it all?

   In a rock pool just off to the left of our cottage, a community of the simplest creatures known on earth are living a daily life, and they would be laughing their little feelers, exoskeletons and barnacles off if they knew what their “superiors” in the normal, everyday food chain of life were putting themselves through, worrying about the future of life on this planet.

Here’s what those creatures in the rock pool know. At low tide, it’s like New Year’s Day. The party’s over. Your mouth is dry. You’re breathing is shallow and you don’t really know how you wound up where you are.

   Here’s what those creatures in the rock pool know. At low tide, it’s like New Year’s Day. The party’s over. Your mouth is dry. You’re breathing is shallow and you don’t really know how you wound up where you are. And just when you feel you’ve got your feet back on the ground, high tide rolls in again, and you’re once again fighting for your life, virginity and any safe place to call home for the night. Every twelve hours, every day, every week, month and year ( if your lifespan even lasts a year) without change. Talk about Groundhog Day!

   It’s not that that community of arthropods, annelids and mollusks wouldn’t be sympathetic to the other creatures of the world; if they weren’t trying to hang on to one more diurnal tide convergence themselves. It’s more a question of our “superior” species figuring out how to keep from annihilating ourselves by our own hand. What can the rock pool teach us that we have to learn before it’s too late?

   The inhabitants of that rock pool don’t have to know about tides (although some of the higher phyla among them would probably love the heads up). They just have to know what it means when the ocean comes in and goes out. As long as they don’t get the incoming and outgoing screwed up, they’ll live out their life cycle just as their ancestors had set it up for them.

   We, on the other hand, have lived as if the high and low tides of our existence are something that can be controlled, manipulated and directed toward our will. And we’ve behaved accordingly. And so it seems now, have the tides of nature begun to behave in response.

   What is that rock pool trying to teach us that we still have to learn?

…From a distance

We all have enough

And no one is in need

And there are no guns,

No bombs, and no disease

No hungry mouths to feed

From a distance

We are instruments

Marching in a common band

Playing songs of hope

Playing songs of peace

They are the songs of every man

God is watching us

God is watching us

God is watching us

From a distance

               –Bette Midler (Julie Gold)


Photo Credit: Carol Madigan/Michelle Herman/Adam Roth

More from our weekend at Crystal Cove

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.