Healing power of a walk on the beach | Rockin’ a Hard Place

I took a walk along the beach one afternoon last week. I hadn’t done that for ages. I did it because I had a lot on my mind. Scientists says salt air by the shoreline contains negatively charged hydrogen ions that help us absorb oxygen and balance out serotonin levels, resulting in more energy and diminished depression. Whatever the reason, a walk on the beach always helps clear the clutter in my head.

Our Rock is 58 miles long, as the crow flies. But when you look at a map, you quickly grasp that it has hundreds and hundreds of miles of beaches and many stretches see only an occasional walker. It also surprises me that, at least in summer, the majority of folks who stroll along our most popular beaches – Ebey’s Landing, Double Bluff, Monroe Landing, Deception Pass, and those in Langley and in Coupeville – are tourists.

I guess that means some of us Rock dwellers take our beaches for granted (translation: don’t use them much). But I guess it also means our visitors leave here feeling extra peppy and elated – which may help explain why they go home raving so much about beautiful Whidbey Island.

On my stroll last week I took the time to watch sand crabs crawl out from under rocks. I counted the number of barnacles on one piece of driftwood – 46, to be exact. I studied mussels growing “in the wild” and knew right away why I prefer the smaller, tastier, less tough ones grown by the Penn Cove mussel farm.

And then there were the birds, hundreds of them. Persistent seagulls always trying to satisfy their insatiable appetite. Patient eagles scanning the horizon, awaiting that perfect opportunity to grab dinner. There’s a lesson there for all of us.

I took this walk along the beach because it had been such a lousy week on dry land. This has been the nastiest political year I can remember, with a lot of us saying we prefer none-of-the-above. Our political divisions have spawned a rhetoric that is sickening, and our political system at every level seems not able to do much – look no further than the debacle that occurred last week at the Port of Coupeville. Sad.

Then five people were senselessly murdered a couple dozen miles away at the Cascade Mall in Burlington, not by a terrorist from the Middle East but by a troubled young man who grew up among us on Whidbey. He came from stable, middle class, patriotic Oak Harbor, where he even joined the high school junior Navy ROTC. We had persuaded ourselves that things like that didn’t happen here on this Rock That’s why we distance ourselves from everything that happens in “America.” But now our illusion is shattered.

There were other, lesser reasons that contributed to my funk last week and the need to go for a walk on the beach. Our puppy shredded a roll of toilet paper and spread it throughout the house. My attempt to make some crabapple jelly ended in un-jelled failure. Charles Osgood retired as host of “CBS Sunday Morning.”

But the beach can be a magnificent healer of all that ills us, and here on the Rock we are fortunate to have hundreds of miles of it.

Take the beach cure. You’ll feel better.