• Sarah Ratermann Beahan

In Defense of Ebb

It's Pisces season and this gal with her moon smack in Pisces is feeling all the feelings, as I suppose is to be expected. These feelings aren't just emotions. I mean literal feelings: physical sensations, intuitive hunches (and also emotions) keep washing over me like waves.

My partner-in-crime and I spent the weekend in Grand Marais, Minnesota. This little town is perched at the tip top of the state, just about as far north as you can go before hitting Canada and on the shores of Lake Superior, that beast of a body of water. It's quaint and artsy and one of my many feelings was that I belonged there at a very elemental level. There, sandwiched between this inland sea and the great granite mountains and the miles of Northwoods and boundary waters, it is place that oozes spirit.

It is also pretty quiet this time of year. Nevertheless, Brian and I drove the four hours north from the Twin Cities, excitedly awaiting our commune with nature. Most restaurants were closed by 8, which landed us in bed by 9:30 most evenings, snuggling beneath the down coverlet listening to the radiators sing us to sleep. This early to bed meant that every morning I would wake and gaze out the window a foot to my left at an unobstructed view of Artist's Point, the bay and the lighthouse as the sun began to make his flamboyant pink surfacing above the horizon.

We returned to (another) winter snowstorm that dumped a half a dozen inches of wet snow on top of the already several feet deep snowpack.

Right now, people here in the Twin Cities are very concerned about flow, or the lack thereof. The wet snow is melting, creating lakes of snowmelt on streets and sidewalks where storm drains are buried under 4 foot drifts. Ice dams are forming on the roofs of houses and buildings creating dagger-like icicles that are as dangerous as they sound, and leaks that are as destructive.

Moreover, we are forecasted to get several inches of cold, late winter rain this week. While the winter-fatigued part of me rejoices, I'm cautioned that all this rain without anyplace to go is a big problem.

Not to mention the fact that February produced a historic amount of snowfall for much of the Upper Midwest, which means we can all brace ourselves for some truly epic flooding. As a girl who grew up several states downstream in the 1990's, I know what epic floods look like, and they are scary.

People love the word flow. It's a word that is typically used to characterize a state of ease. When we go with the flow, we are laid-back, chill. To be in the flow indicates channeling a muse or producing without hiccup or pothole. In yoga, flow refers to that marriage of movement to breath creating a moving meditation and is often responsible for that sense of relaxed euphoria we all love so much.

But really, flow is only great when, like your bathroom faucet, you can turn it off. Otherwise it becomes torrential, overwhelming, and destructive.

As I ponder this after my weekend on the Superior coastline, I think about the shore. Out past the frozen surface, past the ice shards that pile up like so many broken panes of glass, the lake continues to ease in and out, waves thumping hollowly at the frozen surface. With each crest, the water recedes, like the breath. The wave washes in, the shore braces for its arrival and sighs with relief as it retreats.

I need the ebb as much as the flow. The ebb, those silent, ponderous times are what feed my flow. the times lying in bed listening to my husband breathe or the rhythm of my crochet hook as I work another row or the moments of mediation after the sun salutation allow me to pause, integrate and prepare for the next wave.

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