The Back Page
Monday morning 5:40. Rain arrives in four hours; sun rises in one. Any beach time today must be
“But what will I see?” babbles my brain, as I rumble east on Roosevelt Blvd., dew drenching the
windshield. Images flash of others who imagine anyone up walking at this hour to be odd.
The sound of surf greets my ear as the truck door opens. There is plenty to see. Sea on left and sand
on right are awash in the silvery sheen of a three-quarters moon, ahead and to the right, struggling
successfully to peer through clouds. She wears a halo. A bright (but blurry) Venus glows to the left
between two cloudy arms. Little light and less color, though, from the sky itself.
Pillows of foam mark the high-water line. The few gulls are flat black flapping shapes against the
sky. The waves are steady though smallish. No thunderous crashings today; only an ongoing rumbling.
Untrodden sand. No one else is here. Not even fishermen, staring seaward, oversized pickups
stashed behind, rods rammed in the sand. Do any of them ever see the ocean in which they stand, or
observe the sun in the sky? Do they hear the waves and pipers, taste the salty tang? Or are their senses
sated with strings stretched seaward in hopes of hooking a halibut?
Skies brighten as I walk. Color slowly re-enters the world. Patches of sky glow blue and yellow. The
sand grows more tan than gray. The birds take on hues and a third dimension. Along with their cries and
surf sounds, Handel’s “Comfort Ye My People” echoes in my mind. Beautiful thoughts and sensations all.
Many folks would not appreciate any of this. After all, humanity has invented Electric Lights, with
which we can banish unnatural nighttime darkness. Lights allow us to sit wakeful into the wee hours,
watching on screens images of actors pretending to be someone else, parroting a writer’s words,
pirouetting as a director decrees. This is the Season of Lights to boot, and we have all kinds—a spectrum
of shades and strengths. No doubt artificial lights are okay, but is it not nice once in a while to enjoy the
original Greater to rule the day and Lesser to rule the night?