Monday, November 10, 2008


Last week was so momentous that it's hard to write about.  After all that anxiety that things would go wrong in some terrible way, I watched and cried, with millions of others, as Obama won and gave his fabulous speach on November 4 in Chicago.

The next day I flew to Charleston South Carolina for an East-West conference on the Asia-Africa connection that was put on by Trident Tech out on Seabrook Island.  Some time perhaps I will write about the details of the conference and other good things that happened on land while I was there, but for now I want to talk about rebirth. 

At dawn last Friday morning, 6 in the morning, I walked with Nancy, both of us in swimsuits and wrapped in layers of warmer clothing, out to the beach on Seabrook Island.  It was low tide, the sea a gleaming smooth silver sheet, the beach firm under our feet.  We walked west along the shore, but walked backwards a lot so we could face the glowing pearly eastern sky that slowly turned into a persimmon glow, intensely orange, gilding the silver sea.  We were looking for dolphins, and suddenly there was one, and then another, sending little breathy percussive grunts into the air as they surfaced.

I unwrapped my wool shawl and left it on the beach with my towel, then waded in, the water cold but not impossible.  I took some quick strokes, thinking I'd soon just leap back out of the water.  But then, surprise, the cold was tolerable, and so Nancy and I floated, and paddled and floated some more, carried by the current east toward the glowing sky, the dolphins' breaths and small triangular fins not far away.  

And then the birds started coming, flying westward toward us out of that glowing dawn sky, right over our heads, and low.  They were black silhouettes against the brightness, the sound of the air in their feathers, and the creak of their wings, loud and clear in the quiet dawn air.  The ducks flew in V-shaped wedges, twenty to fifty at a time.  The pelicans, large slow-beating frigates in the sky, flew in an offset line four or five at a time.  They kept coming, the birds, another wedge, a small line of pelicans, two more V's of ducks, and more still.

It was like the dawn of time, the world freshly minted, the dolphins swimming, the birds winging their way past, the light intensifying.  And two very happy women immersed in it all, unable to believe their good fortune at being a part of it.

No comments: