We went out to Middle Cove Beach on Father’s Day. It wasn’t a planned visit; the weather was supposed to be mauzy, as they say, grey, foggy, damp. But we were lucky: the sun popped out in the afternoon, and off we went.
Middle Cove Beach is a magical place. And perhaps that’s why What the Oceans Remember opens there. It’s where people go for a boil up. Or to look for icebergs. Or to frolic in the waves when the capelin are rolling. It’s a perfect spot for watching storms or for listening to the rhythms of the ocean. No matter the weather, you’ll always find folks there, strolling among the beach stones, clambering up the cliffs, poking about in the stream, or scanning the horizon (or, if you’re a dog, sniffing along the rocks, tail up, jaunty and eager).
I’ve taken countless photos of this beach over the years. Sun. Wind. Rain. Snow. Storm. Ice. Waves. Icebergs. Capelin. You name it, and I’ve likely got some version of it. You’d think I’d have grown tired of the view, that I’d have become bored. But this beach is different with every visit, and I don’t think I’ll ever have enough of this place.
Middle Cove Beach has many moods, and I seem compelled to try and capture them all.I can’t capture the smell, of course, that tangy blend of salt, water, fish, wind, and seaweed. And you’ll have to intuit the sound: the rhythms of the waves, the surf, and the tide, none of which, Stefanie Hessler reminds me, ever “[return] to the same spot twice” (33), washing up against sand and stones and then, each time, pulling out again. And around the water, the birds, the voices, the wind…
But perhaps, as you scroll through these photos, you can imagine ….
During capelin season, the water is thick with gulls, and along the shore, folks eager to fill salt beef buckets. The beach itself is silver with fish, and a sour, ripe, tangy smell fills the air. Children skip and dance, carrying plastic shopping bags and bug nets, eager to share their catch with you.
The waves change with the weather. Sometimes docile, gentle, calming; other times rushing, surging, heaving.
In the winter, the beach changes again, with ice curtain and waterfalls. The light is different now; watery, dim, a sparkle that comes from the side rather than from above. In the spring, just as we’re clamouring for better weather, the first icebergs make their appearance…
And then, it’s summer once again. Sometimes, Middle Cove Beach would almost have you believe you’re in the tropics…. until you poke a toe into the water, that is. And then you jump back, shriek. Be careful! The water temperatures averages only 6 degrees in June!
We were at Middle Cove Beach just a few days ago. But it’s sunny today, supposed to be sunny tomorrow, too. I wonder what’s changed? Perhaps it’s time to visit again…
What the Oceans Remember: Searching for Belonging and Home is available for pre-order! You can order it via Amazon, Indigo, Powell’s Books, Waterstones, and Blackwell’s, among others!
Hessler, Stefanie. “Tidalectices: Imagining an Oceanic Worldview through Art and Science.” In Tidalectics: Imagining an Oceanic Worldview Through Art and Science, ed. Stefanie Hessler, 31-81. Boston: MIT Press, 2018.
© Sonja Boon, 2019