Fans of David Attenborough’s will know that a lot of stuff goes on in that liminal, shape-shifting zone where the tide steadily, daily, breathes in and breathes out, where the percussion of seashells follows the outgoing waves as they withdraw down the beach, where the turtle’s eggs are laid in the sand and the small crabs scurry and hide, where oystercatchers and gulls forage for mussels and limpets and children and their dogs scamper and play.
Photographers know this too – bird photographers, landscape photographers, both are drawn by the skies and the clouds, the cliffs and the strands, by rock pools and sand dunes and vistas and beaches, by the constancy of change and the infinite variability of reflections and light.
The intertidal zone is where our primeval ancestors emerged, clambering up from the deep to the land, where creatures of all kinds hunt and breed – it is where lovers go, to dream and hold hands, where the solitary and desperate wander alone, seeking something larger than themselves, and the motion of the earth on its axis and the pull of the moon are daily made visible.
So you will know what I mean when I say that these months – July, August, September, October – are like an intertidal zone for Rob and for me, as box by box we pack up our Parkmore townhouse, and wonder where everything will go, in our little Toronto abode, keeping an eye out meanwhile on the latest travel advisories and the Covid numbers, both here and at home in Canada, and making notes to ourselves about the accounts we must cancel – wifi, security – and the things that will need to be handed on, to my daughter and her husband, or sold.
And this is just the physical stuff – the dismantling of a living room and the lining up of crates and boxes in Rob’s studio, ready to be shipped out. But there is the other stuff, too, the emotional business, the mixed emotions of departure and arrival, the thought, never too far in the background, of the people we are leaving and those we will find waiting and, hopefully, happy to see us. All of this washes over us every day, like waves rushing up the beach and receding, in a constant ebb and flow, light and shade, motion and stillness.
We are exhausted and energetic, happy and sad, looking forward and absorbed in the moment. But through it all we are counting the days, and just getting on with it.