By Sarah Ives

November 9, 2020


I push through the brambles and climb over the rotting, peeling fence that inevitably grabs at the cuff of my pants. Getting snagged, I always seem to fall cursing onto the beach, an unfitting way to enter the quiet beauty. On a clear day, the sun’s rays filter through the trees and turn the harsh light into the silky threads of angel hair.

The light falls across the pale-beige sand and gets lost somewhere between the rocks that frame the beach. I often sit on one of the rocks and slip my shoes off to feel the cool grittiness of wriggling toes in the sand. But today I don’t sit. Today I walk down the beach and past the mysterious little opening that could belong only to a deer (I have sat for hours on the rocks, silent and searching, trying to catch sight of one). I continue to the end of the beach where the sand slowly melts into the wetness of the marsh. Turning around from that place of transition––from sand to mud to water––I can see the entire beach: the path, the rocks, my footprints zigzagging across the sand, and the light that falls softly across it all.

I have tried to photograph the beach many times, but somehow the images appear dull, the light flat: another tiny beach by another New England pond.


Sarah Ives is an anthropologist and author of the book, Steeped in Heritage: The Racial Politics of South African Rooibos Tea. In addition to publishing numerous scholarly works, she has written for Sierra Magazine and National Geographic News. She currently teaches at City College of San Francisco ( 


Photo by Josh Taylor courtesy of Unsplash

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