Come down to the sea and take your imagination with you. Never mind the rain and don’t distract yourself with the usual finds of beachcombers: broken lobster traps, lone sandals, bottles, cans and driftwood. Sometimes the stormy seas bring something far more wondrous to our shores.
Of course, it’s not every day you get to see a mermaid. Such enchanting encounters occur so rarely that it’s difficult to know what to do when you do at last catch sight of one on the shore.
You wouldn’t want to get too close. Only half human, the wild part of their nature would likely make them quite skittish and easy to scare back into the water. It’s best to keep a safe distance for both your sakes. After all, mermaids have been known to lure humans unwittingly into the depths of the sea, never to return again. Even Blackbeard the pirate feared their charms and kept his ship away from waters where they had been sighted.
Mermaids likely visited Nova Scotia’s shores long before Europeans settled here. Thrown off course by strong currents during storms, there’s little record of their short stays on our beaches.
They linger only long enough to re-arrange their hair, untangle the seaweed from their tails and sing a haunting song or two before returning to their homes in the deep.
Though this one’s fingers weren’t webbed and she wasn’t sitting on ‘the mermaid stone’ (perhaps the algae made it too slippery this time of year), she was genuinely enchanting.
When will she return? Mermaid visits are as unpredictable as the weather here in Nova Scotia. One can only hope it will be soon.
Text and photographs copyright Amy-Lynn Bell 2012
For more on mermaids, see Where Mermaids Arrange their Hair and Calling All Mermaids.
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The mermaid stone hasn’t seen much action these days. With surfers riding the waves in recent years and more dogs running along the beaches, it’s no wonder that mermaids are going elsewhere to gather their thoughts at dawn and dusk.
I, for one, would love to catch a glimpse of a siren arranging her hair while singing a haunting melody. Even one of the mermaids’ legged cousins, the sea nymphs, would be a delight to find strolling along our shores, gathering shells.
- Sadly, rockweed is all that’s covering the mermaid stone these days.
Maybe it’s all the garbage that’s dumped near our shores that’s putting them off. Or perhaps they don’t bother visiting Cow Bay because there are fewer and fewer shells to find here. The ones that do wash up on our beaches are quickly gathered by tourists and local beachcombers like me.
Sea Nymph by William Symonds 1893
We don’t pause to consider that seashells and sea glass are the only adornments mermaids and sea nymphs have available to them when the seaside flowers aren’t in bloom.
There are probably uninhabited islands not far from here where mermaids don’t have to compete with anyone for the treasures that wash ashore. Seals are likely less intimidating than dogs from their point of view as well.
I’m going to start leaving the seashells where I find them on the shore instead of taking them home. If I take anything back from the beach, it will be the garbage I find there. It’s not much, but it’s a first step in attracting these wondrous creatures back to our shores.
I must be a mermaid… I have no fear of depths and a great fear of shallow living.
― Anaïs Nin (1903-1977)
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Posted in Seashore, tagged Carl Sandburg, journeys, nature, Nova Scotia, ocean, reflections, sea, Seashore, thoughts, voyages, waves, William Wordsworth, wonder on January 19, 2011|
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Waves can pull you in without getting you wet. One moment you’re looking at them from your vantage point on the shore and the next you’re tangled in their frothy curls.
With mist on your face and the roar of the sea numbing your ear drums, you’re soon set adrift. As each wave rolls forward, you’re taken under into the mysterious deep. Long forgotten memories are churned up and float on the surface like sea foam.
Let your heart look on white sea spray
And be lonely…
~ Carl Sandburg
It’s a wonder how some of Nature’s most sensory experiences can take you so far away from the present moment. You might recall long forgotten days at the beach, swimming or surfing. Or your thoughts might drift farther away from the shore, re-examining what was and what might have been at any point along life’s journey. You might even surprise yourself by applying new solutions to old problems.
… a mind forever voyaging through strange seas of thought… alone.
~ William Wordsworth
You needn’t go far or stay away long. And herein lies the greatest gift the sea can offer. Wherever you go when you look at the sea, as with all the best voyages, you’re always more in tune with yourself upon your return.
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Posted in Natural Phenomena, tagged june, nature, Nova Scotia, reflections, sea, sky, spring, thoughts, water on June 11, 2010|
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Perhaps it’s because there are so many foggy days in springtime in Nova Scotia that each blue sky is considered extraordinary. We can’t take any for granted and each one is a wonder unto itself.
The sky is the daily bread of the eyes.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
Reflected in the water, skies here make an impression both above and below the horizon line. Some days, the blue is mixed with grey, some days with pink.
The sky is one whole, the water another; and between those two infinities the soul of man is in loneliness.
~ Henryk Sienkiewicz
Right after taking the above photograph at dawn, I saw a young couple still in graduation dance attire drive by. Going to the beach at dawn to see the sun rise seemed like a fitting end to an already memorable day.
We all see something different when we look at the sky, projecting onto it our feelings of either loneliness, sadness, joy or contentment. Some of us look to the sky and dream hopeful dreams while others feel the weight of regrets and mourn past losses. Regardless of the land-, sea- or sky-scape, nothing matters as much as our point of view.
The soul can split the sky in two and let the face of God shine through.
~ Edna St.Vincent Millay
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Like a golden eye, the sun rises above the horizon. Summer is still almost a month away, but already the warm sunshine is drawing crowds to the beach to bask in its glow at midday. Victoria Day traffic near Rainbow Haven Provincial Park was crazy enough. What will it be like by Canada Day?
Places where the sea meets the sky refresh the spirit and provide an escape from the worries of the world. The appeal is universal. Some of us just prefer to avoid the crowds and take our refreshment earlier in the day than others.
Whether on the sea, a lake or in the marsh, sparkling waters make it easy to forget the busy world that’s left behind. The sound of waves lapping on the shore quenches our thirst for calm.
Last year, summer in Nova Scotia was dismal and short. Could this year’s beautiful spring be a promise of a splendid summer ahead? For now, it’s enough to enjoy the days just one by one, making the most of each opportunity to feel the warmth of the sun on one’s face and happily squint one’s eyes while gazing at sparkling waters.
There shall be eternal summer in the grateful heart.
~ Celia Thaxter
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Posted in Natural Phenomena, Seashore, tagged forest, Lucy Maud Montgomery, may, moaning, nature, Nova Scotia, ocean, sea, Seashore, spring, whispering, woods on May 20, 2010|
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Nova Scotia’s woods beckon in May. They coax you outdoors and do their best to keep you engaged. Apple blossoms call out for your undivided attention as you walk along the path. ‘Look at us know’ they tell you, ‘we won’t be in bloom for long.’
Farther off the beaten path, bog rhodora wave at you in the breeze to come have a closer look at their petals. Their delicate beauty is short-lived too.
The soft white blooms of elderberry trees wink at you from a corner of the woods where mountain ash are also thriving. These elegant trees have cropped up in large numbers since Hurricane Juan downed most of the large firs and spruce. The lacy elderberry flowers wish to be noticed now too before they must give way to the berries.
Down by the seashore, the story is different. The whispers of the woods are drowned out by the ongoing moan of the ocean. The seaweeds sway with the current below the surface but remain silent. They want to be left alone in their muted sadness. Only the waves seem to relentlessly rush to the shore. Are they finding comfort among the rocks that are waiting for them there?
Whether large or small, the rocks have become rounded stones, worn out from listening to the waves’ endless refrain of sadness hour after hour, year after year, age after age.
The woods are never solitary–they are full of whispering, beckoning, friendly life. But the sea is a mighty soul, forever moaning of some great, unshareable sorrow, which shuts it up into itself for all eternity.
~ Lucy Maud Montgomery
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