I felt afraid of the New Year. Don't ask me why. It was as if a big grey cloud descended on my world and I could not shake it off. The sky was porridge. My face was a moon. The house appeared tattered once the decorations came down. Everything was flat, like the desert around the house I once lived in, in New Mexico as I begged for an overwhelming sunset that did not but rarely come.
I loaded the dogs into my little red bug. The beagle sat in the front. He resembled Mr. Magoo on a special outing to nowhere land. Small dog stood on the back seat with her front legs perched on the arm rest in the front and I thought all she needed was a pair of goggles and a white silk scarf. We were on an adventure to nowhere.
I wore layers of clothes and two pairs of socks and Wellington boots and a hat and a quilted jacket and sunglasses. But that's the good thing about Dog company, they never judge you. They never say, you look ridiculous, where are we going? The North Pole? They simply sit and smile at you, look out the window, bark at the cows and horses in the small stone-filled fields, close their eyes in a wise old worldly look that puts you immediately in your place. All they want to know is if the tide will be out, will there be kelp on the sand, can they run, will there be other dogs there, did you bring those small little bone-shaped things you call treats and have us running back to you whenever you raise your arm?
And when you get to the beach you step out of the car in a hesitant fashion. You pull your hat down further over your ears. You survey the land. The dogs are eager. They run in scattered directions and yet, you don't. You follow the edge of the tide. Skim over it until the cappuccino froth covers the toes of your trusty boots. The air bites at your skin. The dogs tumble around. Run up to other dogs. Wag their tails. You call them, raise your arm with the treat and they come lusting after the dried biscuits I stow in my pocket.
I forget then. I forget the fear of the year to come. Because the beach can do that. It can erode the pang, the feeling that the sharp intake of breath causes. Here I breathe better. I pace my steps. I can walk into the tide and out of it as I choose. And there is nothing like rippled sand to distract. It is art really. The weave of sand, tiny mountains of form, like something I always marvelled at as a child, my feet carving themselves into those miniature cliffs that only nature created and there I was today, still doing the same thing, but measuring my steps this time, steps that still seemed as unfathomable as they did all those years ago.