To me, the ocean is equal parts beautiful as it is terrifying. I was reminded of this terror as I climbed and jumped over massive barnacle-covered rocks to reach what looked like a cave in Wringcliff Bay. I had seen it from afar and knew I had to explore, for it would complete the smugglers’ tale of this remote and secluded shingled cove residing at the bottom of towering cliffs.
As I continued journeying on, the cave seemed to stay at the same far distance. With persistence among doubt I finally came within approachable closeness and discovered two more caves. Water was already reaching for the entrance of the furthest cave, the one that had drawn me over initially. If I made a quick dash for it I could attempt to run in while the wave pulled out. But that’s a fool’s (or a chicken’s) thought as I had no idea what to expect from the dark. Images of a watery cage crashing in kept me back.
The amplified sound of the sea against the cliff walls engulfed the scene and scared me. As I stood facing the ocean it roared towards me in intervals and made my heart beat double-time. At times it would vigorously sneak around the large black rocks, jolting and frothing every which way and I couldn’t predict where it would stop. Sometimes right at my feet. Running in between obstacles, here and there, there and here, I darted from cave opening to cave opening. I admit I didn’t dare take time to venture beyond the entrance of the two accessible caves, for stories of people trapped by rising seas while exploring the cavities of earth continued to tangle my mind and I didn’t want to become that tale of too-late. I had, after all, reached my goal—I had made it to the caves.
Feeling hurriedly satisfied, I worked my way back. But instead of negotiating the rocks at a reasonable pace, I made rapid decisions with my feet and hands to move over every giant rock and boulder in a hurry. I didn’t want the tide to surprise me still. Finally, I saw my friends in the distance heading toward the ascending wooden steps at the base of the cliff. I jumped and waved and called and felt a portion of relief to be back with people and away from the incoming ocean.
Some time afterwards, I realized it has been awhile since the ocean frightened me. Normally I sit and stare or stroll, and enjoy it’s cadence and blanket of calm. It’s soft colors and soothing sounds. But it is good to be reminded of it’s strength and wielding power every once in a while, for even stone gives way to water.