the beach was new to me. there were large rocks and various sea creatures. i spent much of my time there alone. once i learned to swim, there were other things. but at first i concentrated on the rocks.
learning the way to the top of the largest rock was tricky. on the first leg of the journey i kept close to the side. once i mastered that, i needed to make a leap of faith to continue. there was a turn and a large stretch to get to the top. i had to trust that my legs were long enough without knowing. many times i started. many times i didnt get to the top. once i made the leap, i realised something. there was more than one way down.
high tide meant leaps into unknown territory, with uncertain consequences. low tide meant the possibility of damage if i made a bad step. there was no easy way down. i was afraid to retrace my steps. at the top of that rock, i discovered another leap. like the first i had to trust myself, i had to leap without seeing. i stayed at the top a long time. i found a way down, and then made my way back up.
there was a hole in the middle of that large rock. it was deep and dark. at the bottom, sand and water. the sides were slick, i could see that. at first i didnt venture into the well, i stared into it. around to the back of the rock was another entrance to the well. at the waterline, barnacles and seaweed, daunting obstacles at best. i travelled many paths on the rock, but i feared the well. once at low tide, from the back, i climbed halfway up, into the dark of the well. the slime made it hard to keep going. it was too dark to see my next hand or foothhold. if i waited, i would be swallowed by the incoming tide. i had to continue with out seeing, i had to feel my way up and out.
minot c. 1969
i was seven. my folks had split. our family was splintered. i spent part of that summer in a rented house, my grandparents cottage and at the rock. at the rental and the cottage, i was confused. people didnt tell me things. i didnt see my father or my oldest brother. my mother took up with another man. that rock made me trust myself when i couldnt trust anyone. that rock made me know i was capable, that i could do things. that rock made me feel happy when everything around me was sharper than any barnacle. i havent been back there for many years.
id like to try that rock again…