By Rowy Marynissen
I was having one of those weeks where things were just not feeling right and I was quite relieved I had put in a request to leave early from work (to go visit the beach). It was perfect timing. It was the middle of winter, so it was cold, but there is no ice or snow where I live, so thankfully beach access is usually easy. The water on the other hand can be very cold. This day was cold and rainy, and I wasn't very prepared with a wetsuit when I headed off from work that early afternoon. I was not deterred by the weather as I had to smell and feel the ocean just to clear my head.
I wasn't sure if I was going to regret it as the rain pummeled on the windscreen as I drove to my destination, shiny wet rainbows on the road paving my way. At least the car was getting a good clean.
When I arrived at the beach, I realized I did have some wet weather gear in my car—some pants and a jacket. I put them over my clothes and put on some reef shoes and was hoping for the best. As I walked down the beach, I noticed our otherwise small, calm bay had large pounding waves and some waves surging up the beach intermittently. It was a little crazy and even though it was a weekday, there were some surfers out there taking advantage of these unusual conditions.
I stopped for a moment in the drizzle to take it all in. The mist hanging over the bay gave a mysterious look, and the waves crashing into the sand made me feel a sense of power as I took a deep breath of fresh air. The gulls were all huddled together and some were hanging around me hoping I might have a nibble for them.
I walked along the tide line inspecting for any treasures. The wave surges kept their distance from me, although I had a feeling today I was going to get really wet.
I noticed close to the water's edge there was a grand pebble pile which had accumulated, and the waves were crashing down upon it, dispersing the pebbles and revealing all sorts of sea glass goodies. There were only a few seconds between wave surges to look quickly into the pebbles before the next wave came, and I had to run quickly back, save getting soaked. This was an exciting activity grabbing small pieces of sea glass from the pebbles before the wave got me. And running away each time was beginning to make me tired.
Then I spotted something which made my heart race: a shooter marble at least what looked like the top of one. I had less than seconds before I could grab it and potentially gone forever into the waves, possibly never to be seen again. I dove down to grab it just as the wave came down. I could feel a handful of pebbles in my hand I dare not let go of and as I pulled back from the wave, completely soaked. I opened my clenched hand to reveal just pebbles. I was so disappointed. But wait! As the pebbles were falling from my hand, the most stunning shooter marble was revealed. It was a glowing greenish yellow and real stunner. I was in a daze and dripping wet!
I'm not sure if my clothes under the wet weather gear was wet, but everything else was dripping. I put the marble into my beachcombing bag. Just then, I heard a child calling. The poor kid looked like he was trapped in a rip with his surfboard and there was nobody nearby. It didn't seem too far out. I had my clothes on, but I didn't waste any time. I'm not a strong swimmer, but the water looked okay further out. I jumped in and started swimming toward him, my heart racing. I could still hear his little voice, as I was stating to get tired and getting near him.
Without warning I could feel the water sucking me in—did a wave come? I was under the water and swirling, and I felt sick and couldn't breathe. Then everything went blank as I gave up the fight.
It felt like an age had passed when I came to. I was back on the sand lying on my side. As I started to try and sit up, I started coughing. The boy was nearby with his board and I was wondering what happened. He was screaming excitedly, "Did you see her?! Did you see her?!"
"See who?" I replied. The boy was jumping up and down pointing to the water. I turned, and I swore I saw a large fish tail disappear into the water. Could it have been? How did we get here otherwise? I was totally stunned! Saved by a mermaid, who would believe that? I looked to see that the shooter marble was still in my bag, bright green and yellow and shiny. I just smiled. What an afternoon!
This article appeared in the Beachcombing Magazine May/June 2020 issue.