A long green bench is nestled beneath a small grouping of trees, their branches nearly bare on a crisp Autumn day. Nearby, a tiny path overrun with tangled, thorny bushes leads down a steep incline to the rocky shoreline far below. I can barely hear a whisper of the tide, but the air is fresh, brisk and salty. Gulls cry and circle overhead, searching for scraps washed up amongst scattered mounds of half-rotten seaweed and the miniature bodies of a million shelled creatures ground up into sand that crunches underfoot. An old man flies a giant fish-shaped kite that whizzes in the breeze. Children look up with joyous rapture at the multitude of colours that dive and tilt wildly in all directions.
A fragrant cedar-chip trail runs behind the bench where owners and their dogs march past on strained leashes, while in a clearing other dogs freely gallop with tongues dripping as they chase down bouncing balls and dash madly back proudly displaying their prey. The branches above the bench sway gently, rhythmically with a light scraping sound, while birds flutter amongst them and chirp in dappled sunlight. Walkers and joggers stream past, while old couples slowly stroll, holding leathery hands and smiling sweetly at the memory of younger limbs and lives. They also once moved with loose abandon, but are now just happy to be outside feeling the sun and wind on dry weather-lined skin.
I sit alone on the bench and sip bittersweet coffee and think of my mother whose ashes now lie deep in the earth, scattered years ago amongst the nearby trees and bushes. Dust to dust, ashes to ashes, life to death, warmth to cold, loving flesh to memory, wrinkled face to photograph. Tears soon flow down and collect below, forming tiny rivers of salt-water that will join the air and ocean to complete the cycle. I play her favourite music and feel concentrated energy flowing through me knowing we’re all part of the same spirit, living and breathing and dying amongst all the inhabitants of this wonderful vibrant world.