For the same reason I love dioramas, I love tidepools. A self contained world seems easier to manage. I know the earth is finite and there are borders and edges, but when I’m staring out at the ocean it doesn’t feel that way.
Tidepools are also nostalgic for anyone who grew up close to the Oregon coast. In the Pacific Northwest, we’ve abandoned the sandy beaches for a rocky coast. Today, any rocks on a beach will always bring up memories of being with my family, damp moss, clouds, and the grippy feeling of an anemone.
Usually on Friday mornings, I’m volunteering at a foundation for students with developmental disabilities, but the therapist was out today. The tide was also out. The first pool looked empty except for the tell tale ripples of fish shooting across the surface. I couldn’t find anything and was ready to conclude they were ghosts when my eyes adjusted a bit and I could see a school of fish so white and clear they could have been specters. I kept going over stones pock marked with small holes. Blue, red, and sand colored crabs rushed in and out like salary men on the Tokyo Metro. The rocks opened up into more pools closer to the waves.
Keeping one eye on the sea, I bent down to examine closer. Anemones grew in big clumps, sea slugs crawled like yeerks across purple algae Urchins were abundant. The most surprising find was a long tentacle that resembled a millipede. I wasn’t sure if it was alive, so I touched it, and it quickly retracted under it’s rock. I started to see more of these strange sea bugs, including a black spiky one. When I touched it, instead of retracting, it started to wrap around my finger. It was curious and terrifying. The kind of animal you would expect to burrow into your brain, but then tell you secrets from nature.