I picked up some treasures from the forest trail and beach on Mayne Island when I was there. The shells and rocks bear the same reddish-brown hue as the Arbutus tree bark. My collection reminded me of Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s Gifts from the Sea. She spent some time writing at a cottage one summer. She found the hot damp environment was not ideal for working, which is why I went to Mayne in the cool late fall.
The first week she was there she unwound, letting her tired body sink into the rhythms of the seashore. “One becomes in fact, like the element on which one lies, flattened by the sea; bare, open, empty as the beach, released by today’s tides of all yesterday’s scribblings.” But then comes the second week. Oh for a stretch of weeks to write on the shores of Mayne.
The mind wakes, comes to life again. Not in a city sense—no—but beach-wise. It begins to drift, to play, to turn over in gentle careless rolls like those lazy waves on the beach. One never knows what chance treasures these easy unconscious rollers may toss up, on the smooth white sand of the conscious mind; what perfectly rounded stone, what rare shell from the ocean floor. Perhaps a channeled whelk, a moon shell, or even an argonaut.
But it must not be sought for or—heaven forbid!—dug for. No, no dredging of the seabottom here. That would defeat one’s purpose. The sea does not reward those who are too anxious, too greedy, or too impatient. To dig for treasures shows not only impatience and greed, but lack of faith. Patience, patience, patience, is what the sea teaches. Patience and faith. One should lie empty, open, choiceless as a beach—waiting for a gift from the sea. —Anne Morrow Lindbergh