Each time I passed the the kitchen window in my wanders through the house, what I already knew was confirmed by a quick glance at the puddle where the driveway meets the street: it was raining. Not just a few drops here and there, but a steady drumbeat keeping the muddy pool topped up. From the couch I can see it coming down like a sheet. Argh.
And then suddenly, after the rain seems at its heaviest, there is a lull. I go to the window to make sure, and the driveway puddle is curiously still. I wait, poking my head out the door and pacing back and forth. It seems to be holding, at least for the next few minutes, and I decide to take my chances. Layered up with a gore-tex topper and my trusty bean boots, I grab my camera bag and head straight for the beach. This pause in the rain has coincided nicely with the low tide, and the shore stretches out before me under a grey sky. The driftwood over small rocks at the high tide line moves into larger boulders covered in barnacles and slime, and finally sand spreads out just at the waterline. I amble between the rocky pools and sand, looking for critters and things left behind. Every once in awhile I pause to scan the horizon and the hillside, noting a few eagles perched high in the trees and the sheets of rain still moving out across the water. A sprinkling of drops finds me every now and again, but a real downpour holds off, for the moment.
I have spotted a starfish or two clutching a rock, waiting for the water to return, but then suddenly I'm out on a larger expanse of sand and they're everywhere. Piled together in large clumps, the ochre stars have decided space is overrated and are waiting out the low tide with a crowd of friends. The whelks are everywhere too, and seem to be embracing spring already, having laid little eggs that now cling to rocks and abandoned clam shells. Occasionally there is a bright orange whelk, a sunspot shining bright in this grey day, grey landscape. I look but so far there are no signs of herring eggs washing ashore, clinging to every bit of seaweed. No signs of sea lions feasting on the eggs and herring off shore either. Soon, perhaps within a few a days. The fishing great blue heron will have none of me today, flying off when I am still far away.
When I can deny the call of 'real life' no longer, I amble back to the truck along the high tide line. On my way home I stop to pick the first batch of stinging nettles for the season. As I make my way down the dirt path I wryly watch a young couple, the woman's belly swelling, head out to the beach with a photographer for a maternity shoot, just a little needles of hail start coming down. I tuck my head down and pick a dinner's worth of the tender but prickly shoots, then get back to the truck before I'm fully soaked. The grey days are still here, but if you look closely around the edges, in the tiny greens that are poking up through the muddy earth, spring is on its way. But it takes a lot of rain to get there.