Diary: Seven Seas

Seven seas is a figurative term for all the seas of the world. To cross the seven seas means to sail them all, to sail to the most distant coast. But the only sea and the only coast that means all the world’s treasures to me is my Asari beach by the Baltic Sea three miles from my bed. I cycle there to gaze, to swim, to take notes and guess birds. I collect talismans as if they were clues and try to untangle the secret of the sea…

DAY_1: May 13, 7:40 am, air +11°C, water +13°C

Sea is calm and light blue. Horizon line glows white. More than thirty swans glide close to shore and feed on algae. Black headed gulls talk and talk, and talk. Strong smell of seaweed lingers in the air. The breakfast table is set. A chain on my bike nearly falls off but I manage to get it in place and throw my bike in sand. I kneel and feel with my bare knees how cool the beach sand is. I look at the light blue everything. Swans so white in the quiet morning sun. It has to be a dream. Before I leave, I look for the one last time. The sea has turned darker blue, the sky has a tint of purple and the horizon line glows electric blue. It is impossible to photograph it. Just like you can’t take a photo with you from a dream. No one will believe me. I will try to never forget.

Talisman: a pine cone from the beach.

DAY_2: May 14, 7:55 am, air +9°C, water +13°C

Sea seems more immense. Her skin is crumpled, in a constant movement. Eight swans still here. They bob on the water like catamarans. In the distance six ducks look entirely black. But are they really? Sea is grey, sky is lilac, pink, ash and a patch of light blue where the clouds have parted. Sand is so beautiful today after a windy yesterday: wavelike lines crossed by bird prints. I sit down at the beach. Feels like calm before the storm. A crocodile built from sand on the damp shoreline gazes out to sea together with me. The weather is changing. On my ride back I peek the flowerbeds of strangers over the fences. Sun-bleached photos of lost cats are glued to electric poles and don’t reveal the whole story. It starts to drizzle when I arrive home. I pour sand out of my sneakers. I’ve taken a bit of beach with me.

Talisman: a piece of clay.

DAY_3: May 15, 8:02 am, air +10°C, water +12°C

A thick fog all around our house when I wake up. Until I get dressed and cycle to the seaside, the fog has gone. I feel as if I have missed the show by arriving too late. But you can’t be too late for the sea. She is all pearly, the sky is light blue with a purple cloud like a distant mountain or some magical island rising above the horizon. Gulls are having a chat on the water, so many bird sounds coming from the sea. Closer to the shore and from far away too. What are those ducks? Making a constant noise. A swan flies close to the water surface moving its wings loudly as a boeing. Crows wander the beach with arms crossed behind their backs, always suspicious of me. Sun warms my face. Runners run, dogs bark. I feel grounded here. Sand is dotted after last night’s rain. A line of foam moves on the shoreline like a snake of bubbles. The long line my tires leave in the wet sand looks like a snake too. In the dream last night there was a wall built on my road. I couldn’t get to the sea. What a nightmare. When I return home, the fog returns.

Talisman: a bone.

DAY_4: May 16, 2021, 08:40 am, air +9°C, water +13°C

Last night I went to bed with a midnight chorus of frogs. Admiring their ability to be so loud, I imagine the river at night and drift to sleep. In the morning I am at the beach. Sea gives me a gold star. Swans in their numbers are spread along the shoreline, enjoying a slow brunch alongside gulls, and I think that I saw a black and white duck. Sea has stepped back a bit leaving a mushy coastline of mud and seaweed. My sneakers sink in the seaweed and most probably will really stink afterwards. The stink of the sea that takes me home. Two older ladies practise Nordic walking and chat about romantic movies. One of them retells the plot of the Notting Hill, while the other thinks it is You’ve Got the Mail, because both feature bookstores. Two young men run and talk about cars and thousands of euros. Two different worlds and fantastic acoustics. When they all are in the distance, all I can hear is the sea full of birds. Streets are different on a Sunday morning. A nightlight still on in one window.

Talisman: a swan’s down.

DAY_5: May 17, 2021, 07:32 am, air +12°C, water +13°C

Puddles are continents on a rain map of pavement. Pine pollen highlights their borders pale green. Beach is deserted. I find a dead butterfly among the seaweed. Both antennas intact, wet wings in the colour of puddle pollen. I gently put it inside my pocket. I somehow can’t just leave it here. Dust from its wings print my fingers, I could smear it on my eyelids like silvery shades. But my eyes search for birds. Yesterday I tried to clarify what species of ducks were gathering in the distance. I have to see them closer. A pair flies close enough to notice their white plumage, black wingtips and black head. Soon one duck flies so near my face as if it would want to be recognised correctly. Brown feathers around its neck, I document in my notebook. It could be a shelduck. After a swim in a silver sea I pick up a seaweed, called an Irish moss, spread it on my towel at the back of my bike and carry it home like a passenger.

Talisman: a seaweed.

DAY_6: May 18, 2021, 7:29 am, air +8°C, water +13°C

The sea has nearly gone. Swans bob in the thick fog like ghosts of kings and queens. Dogs with their owners appear from nothingness on the left and disappear into nothingness on the right. Sea is louder than yesterday. What will she be like tomorrow? Or the moment I’m gone? I slip on a seaweed carpet before going in. Waves keep coming and coming towards the shore like there’s more where they come from. Swans hide their faces into the sea. I do the same. The fog is cold. My fingers freeze writing this down. Gulls offer phrases to be added: creek, creek, creek, creek. Mute swans remain mute, writing poetry with their movements alone in the sea.

Talisman: a piece of driftwood.

DAY_7: MAY 19, 2021, 7:20 am, air +8°C, water +13°C

So that’s how you look today. No wind in my wet garden but here the sea all choppy. A slight drizzle dots my notebook and the beach sand, too. It had been raining all night which didn’t stop the nightingale to put up an unforgettable premier of the season in our black apple garden. No swans on the sea today. It’s time for the herring gulls (or silver gulls in Latvian) to drift on the wings of storm. But where are the swans I wonder? Until three long necks fly across the sea, across the beach as low as if I could touch their bellies if I would jump a little bit higher and over the pine tips away. Sky is clouded blue, sea is silver and grey and green throwing whitecaps at me. Crows keep guarding the beach while gulls – they own the sea.

Talisman: a bark.

Seven talismans found by the sea. Photo: Beach Books.

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