Photograph by Sam Buchanan - Story by Ashley Meggitt

The beach drifts off into the distance, a curving vista of blues, whites, and speckled browns. Small waves queue up to crash on its shore, all froth and noise and endless energy.

The bubbling wash of the waves rushes up the beach, over the bare feet of the Watcher, and off in search of anything it can drag back to its watery home. It can only get so far and with its energy spent it retreats, pulling at the sand around the feet off the Watcher, desperate to obtain something for its efforts.

The Watcher appears not to notice. They are looking at the distant waves. Each wave builds in a swell that moves towards land, growing taller and broader as it does so. And then, as if it trips on something below the surface, the wave pitches forward throwing up spray in alarm and roaring in surprise as it falls hard against the oncoming shoreline. This happens again and again, wave after wave, in what appears to be a constant rhythmic pattern. Yet imperceptibly the tempo changes. It must do. The tide is its measure. The Watcher knows this and knows they cannot see or hear the change but can somehow feel it. This is deeply satisfying, and their body relaxes without any conscious effort on the Watcher’s part.

After a while, the Watcher shifts their attention out over the water and then to the horizon, where the sea meets the sky. From here they lift their eyes allowing their gaze to be caught by the cloudless canvas of granulated blues that rise up and over and behind them. There is no discernible change between any part of the sky, yet the colour changes. The Watcher considers this and wonders if there is a connection between the sky’s granularity and the rhythmic behaviour of the waves. Perhaps the ocean is a giant nature-driven sky printer, with each roll of a wave painting a tiny strip of sky at the horizon, pushing the previous line forward and up. Each tiny change in tempo of the crashing waves makes an imperceptible change to the colour of the next painted line. Perhaps.

The sun is strong and although its heat is tempered by the sea breeze the Watcher moves on. Time to find some shade.

A cormorant passes over head flying out to sea, its shadow rippling across the uneven surface of the water. The bird flies with purpose, confident of its destination, but the Watcher sees nothing out in the vastness that it might be heading for. The Watcher wishes they had such confidence in their own destination.

The texture underfoot changes. It is now hard compacted sand, a spur a few metres across projecting inward, cutting a path through the dominating shingle. The tide runs further up this section offering a shallow watery veneer to the hard surface. The water covering moves gently over the sand, never quite disappearing before it is refreshed by the next push of a wave.

The compacted sand is arranged in small ridges, like ripples that have been frozen in time. The Watcher bends down and gently runs their fingers over the tiny sand waves. Beautiful, they think. There is something about the shapes and sounds of nature that pull at the fundamentals of the human spirit. It is irresistible, immeasurable.

The Watcher marvels at this and at that moment everything is as it should be.