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Posts Tagged ‘waves’

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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It’s been warm today. Balmy to say the least.  Thirteen degrees Celsius is not at all typical for December in Nova Scotia. Odd weather occurences are becoming more frequent than usual this year, already predicted to be the warmest in Canadian history.

But this afternoon, even news of surfers in Fisherman’s Cove came as a bit of a surprise. I wasn’t able to get out to see the action in Eastern Passage, but I did get a few images of the waves in the Cow Bay area towards Rainbow Haven beach.

The whole sea appeared to be in the process of being stirred up by an invisible hand.  Both the number and size of the waves were remarkable.

What was even odder was the number of flies hovering in the air.  (You might be able to spot some in the photos).  Though I didn’t walk down to the shore, I imagine they would have been swarming in even greater numbers near the seaweed that’s been churned up over the past day.

I hope all the surfers had a great time trying to catch the Big One.

Sybil at Eastern Passage Passage managed to capture surfers in the images she took of today’s waves at Fisherman’s Cove.  You can visit her post at Surf’s Up.

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They come in a series of seven.
And the seventh wave is big enough…
…to take us both out
beyond the point of return.
~ Papillon   (Henri Charrière)

Walking along the seashore, it’s obvious that not all waves possess the same strength.  Some trickle onto the shore while others crash and extend a farther reach onto the sand.  Many have wondered if there’s some kind of pattern to the frequency of the stronger waves.  

Wave height and strength are determined by a number of factors:

  • the force of the wind (the stronger the wind, the larger the wave)
  • the distance over which the water is affected by the wind (the longer the distance, the larger the wave)
  • tidal action (incoming high tides into a small inlet from a larger expanse of water can cause especially large waves)
  • seismic activity beneath the ocean floor (these can sometimes cause huge waves to occur)
  • the depth of the water (waves cannot sustain their height once they reach shallow water)

The magic of the seventh wave continues to elude shoreline visitors across cultures.  Surfers are especially keen wave watchers, always on the look-out for the perfect wave to catch.  Some may have been able to find small patterns in the course of a single day on a specific beach but this usually involves a series of fewer or more than seven waves.  Though experts say there’s no way to predict the frequency of stronger waves, the French story of an island prisoner in Papillon details a swim to freedom enabled by the seventh wave.  

The waves have pounded the earth’s shorelines for millennia and will continue to do so long after we’re gone.  Wave patterns are altered from hour to hour, day to day and year to year.  Despite ongoing changes, the mystery and power of the seventh wave will likely endure.

Every ripple on the ocean
Every leaf on every tree
Every sand dune in the desert
Every power we never see
There is a deeper wave than this
                      . . .
I say love is the seventh wave.
~ Sting

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In the natural world, penguins, seals and dolphins are known for their surfing antics.  Their bodies are well equipped to tackle the elements. But why would humans surf in the cold waters off Cow Bay, Nova Scotia in January?  ‘Because the waves are there,’ they’d probably answer.  What many would regard as Nature’s fury, some see as Nature’s playground.  

Surfing expresses … a pure yearning for visceral, physical contact with the natural world.
~ Matt Warshaw

The fog on Sunday made it difficult for me to see both the waves and the surfers.  No, those black specs aren’t cormorants on the water.  They’re young men shivering in their wet suits, waiting to catch the next big wave.

The parking lot near the Cow Bay Moose was packed full of vehicles, surfboards and young men changing in and out of their wet suits.  Things seemed more quiet  in the waters behind Christ Church where surfers are also known to congregate.

I managed to see some surfers waiting for the next wave in these waters just off Christ Church, but they’re so far off shore that you can’t even see them in the photo. 

In the past decade, big waves have drawn crowds of surfers to Cow Bay whenever there’s been a hurricane or other fierce storm in the area.   This weekend’s first snowstorm of the year was expected to deliver waves up to 8 metres in height.  Hopefully, everyone found the excitement they came for without any accompanying frostbite.

The above photo was taken yesterday by Reed Holmes during the first swell of the new year. For more information about surfing in Nova Scotia, see Scotia Surfer.

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waves after bill

Waves are still high this morning even though Hurricane Bill left our waters yesterday as a category 1 hurricane.  Damage was minimal compared to the havoc created by Hurricane Juan in 2003.

seaweed

Seaweed litters the beach and is still being brought in by the increased wave action.

flying insects on beach

Swarms of flying insects hover around Rainbow Haven Beach.  Mosquitoes often multiply after hurricanes due to the increased presence of standing water.  Elsewhere in Cow Bay, swarms of surfers are heading out to catch the waves.

Bird and squirrel activity appeared to be back to normal after the tremendous downpouring of rain.  The forest floor is covered with leaves shaken off the trees.  Only some standing dead wood seems to have been brought down by the wild winds.

leaves on forest floor

It could have been so much worse.  And for that Nova Scotians are all breathing a sigh of relief.

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waves

Stepping onto a beach can suddenly give you a sense of timelessness. A sense of where you are in the course of the day falls away. It no longer matters if it’s 10:35 am or 3:40 pm. Cares are pulled out to sea with the receding waves. All that remains is forever.

salt marsh at dawn

But in a salt marsh, you are much more aware of the exact time of day. There’s a silence that isn’t heard on the shore. Bird activity and the ebb and flow of the tides divert your attention from past and future thoughts, pulling you back into the here and now.

To stand at the edge of the sea, to sense the ebb and flow of the tides, to feel the breath of a mist moving over a great salt marsh, to watch the flight of shore birds that have swept up and down the surf lines of the continents for untold thousands of years, to see the running of the old eels and the young shad to the sea, is to have knowledge of things that are as nearly eternal as any earthly life can be.

~ Rachel Carson

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