the sound of outer ocean on a beach

11.20.20 ~ ring-billed gull
Bluff Point State Park & Coastal Reserve

The three great elemental sounds in nature are the sound of rain, the sound of wind in a primeval wood, and the sound of outer ocean on a beach. I have heard them all, and of the three elemental voices, that of the ocean is the most awesome, beautiful, and varied. For it is a mistake to talk of the monotone of the ocean or of the monotonous nature of its sound. The sea has many voices.
~ Henry Beston
(The Outermost House: A Year of Life on the Great Beach of Cape Cod)

35 thoughts on “the sound of outer ocean on a beach”

    1. Thank you, Joanne! I’m glad you enjoyed the quote and the gull. It had been a couple of months since I posted any gull pictures. πŸ™‚

    1. Glad you enjoyed the quote, Frank! We did have a good weekend and finally finished painting the kitchen. Happy Thanksgiving! πŸ™‚

    1. I saw Lake Ontario once on a trip through upstate New York. It looked just like the ocean but it smelled like a pond. I imagine the Great Lakes have many voices, too, but there is something special about the salty smell of sea spray. πŸ™‚

  1. “And I heard a voice from heaven, like the voice of many waters, and like the voice of loud thunder. And I heard the sound of harpists playing their harps.” Revelation 14:2

    Sorry to get all biblical but I love to imagine what God’s voice sounds like and ‘many waters’ appeals to me. Howling wind, on the other hand, is up there with tsunamis as one of my anxiety producing natural phenomena.

    Hope you have a nice Thanksgiving. I am thankful for your blog.

    1. When you think about it, loud thunder, which rattles my nerves, has many voices, too, from the heavy rumbling of a freight train to the sharp crackle of lightning striking very close by. My 8th-great-grandfather, William Shurtleff (1624-1666), was killed by lightning and I wonder if fear of that frightful experience was passed down through the generations.

      Wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving, too, James. I am also thankful for your thoughtful comments!

      1. Collective consciousness is certainly an interesting thought. I sometimes think I favor my ancestor, Thomas Dewey (1606-1648), more than recent lineal descendants. It’s the Puritan in me. I, too, look for simpler, more primitive means to worship.

        It’s evocative to consider that original Thanksgiving celebrations date from a time when William Shurtleff and Thomas Dewey walked the earth. But the recollection of events for early celebrations differ decidedly for Pilgrims and the Wampanoag. History is written by the victors.

        My brother and I intend to prepare a couple of big filets sous vide style tomorrow. Given my disability, it’s a fool-proof method. I like when life is simpler.

        God bless all on the day of thanks.

        1. I have been having very mixed feelings about Thanksgiving in recent years and have been reading articles about the Wampanoags and the Pilgrims. I was fed the romantic story of the first Thanksgiving while growing up like most Americans. And I can claim quite a few of the Mayflower passengers as ancestors. But the holiday wasn’t actually celebrated until after the Civil War, as an effort to unify the country and thank God for the preservation of the Union. On the whole, I love the being with family and expressing gratitude for the blessings we have, but I completely understand why the Wampanoags and other tribes regard it as a day of mourning.

          Your filets sous vide sounds wonderful! Happy Thanksgiving to you and your brother!

  2. I, too, love the sound of the ocean, but a gentle rain comes pretty close — and here, I get to hear rain more often than oceans, ha! Pretty bird — the feathers on his head look painted on.

    1. If I’ve got it right, that head plumage indicates a nonbreeding adult.

      Since I cannot hear the ocean at night there is no calmer sound to me for sleeping than a gentle rain on the roof. Once I stayed with someone in a house next to a babbling brook, very soothing sounds. And once, in Norway, I slept in a hotel near the tranquilizing sound of a waterfall. It’s all about moving water, I think…

  3. The sea has many voices…oh would love to walk along the sea and hear its voices. Frank talked about the many attributes of wind today. Think of all the deeper listening we could do out in nature. So much that we take for granted.

    1. We do often take the sounds of nature for granted, and then feel pleasantly refreshed when we tune in again. Will be visiting Frank soon. Once upon a time I had a CD of birds singing in the woods — wonder where it might be now… I hope you get to take many more walks by the sea as soon as it’s okay to travel again. πŸ’™

  4. That’s a beautiful quote Barbara and a great close-up of a gull that is woolgathering and perhaps enjoying the sound of the waves lapping against the shore. For years I had a pair of radio headphones from Radio Shack. They still work, but the ear pads have deteriorated over time so I no longer use them as little black bits from the ear pads fall off. But it was not just an AM-FM radio, it had six buttons for soothing sounds … ocean waves, wind on a prairie, a babbling brook, train on a railroad tracks, rain and white noise. At the time we had extremely loud neighbors so when I went to bed every night I wore them to drown out the noise. It worked and I went through a ton of batteries.

    1. Thank you, Linda! Well, you introduced me to a new word this morning, “woolgathering” = “indulgence in aimless thought or dreamy imagining; absentmindedness.” πŸ™‚ I love it! (Turns out I do a lot of woolgathering myself. πŸ˜‰ I’m already thinking of using it for a post title…) The soothing sounds buttons on that radio sound like the perfect antidotes for noisy neighbors at night. Maybe it would work for my tinnitus. I am wondering what ‘wind on a prairie’ sounds like. Anyhow, the gull was probably wondering how close I was going to get to him and what the nearby juvenile great black-backed gull was up to.

      1. I love the word “woolgathering” too Barbara and I’m prone to doing that too when I’m off on a long walk by myself. I often find that seagulls perch on a railing and stare out at the water, motionless like they are deep in thought. It seems they are usually pretty solitary (unless someone appears with food). Right after I wrote you about the headphones with the soothing sounds, I heard on the news that Radio Shack is being revived, but as an online retailer only. I know I could get the ear pads for the radio on Amazon, but now I can order them right there. I had several of the headsets but only one had the soothing sounds – they were otherwise identical. I know Sharper Image has a machine with soothing sounds, mostly for sleep, but you would want something directly on your ears for the tinnitus. I had a boss with tinnitus and I would be speaking to him and he’d shake his head as he said the ringing kept him from concentrating on what I said. Wind on the prairie was a whooshing noise, kind of eerie and hollow sounding.

        1. Thank goodness my tinnitus isn’t as bad as it was for your boss! But it would be great to put those sounds directly into my ear so I wouldn’t have to disturb anyone else sleeping in the room. I usually sleep by myself with a TV or radio on to drown out the ringing. Sounds from nature would be so much better!

          It seems to me gulls are ambiverts. At least the ones around here seem to enjoy the company of others and also time to themselves. You made me remember this post about the Captain and solitude: https://www.ingebrita.net/2019/07/do-not-disturb/

          1. I have visited that post – thank you for sending it Barbara. I think that the raucous cry of gulls may wear on the other gulls sometimes. The last time at the grocery store, someone had either dropped and spilled, or placed, donuts in an area of the parking lot. As I walked to the store, I said “please not over my head or onto the car” – there was a lot of noise and a lot of gulls. As for the noise, I looked around and found something and will send the link separately. It is pricier than my Radio Shack headphones. But it is made a little fancier … a type of headband that you can charge from your computer and the charge lasts a while, plus you can set it like a timer and there are lots of soothing nature sounds as well as white noise. They have a YouTube video that explains how it works and a section of the product description gives links to click on to hear the many sounds. Radio Shack is putting their merchandise online at the end of November … the website is up now and some items are already sold out! They only have one model of the radio but no soothing sounds. I will send you the Sharper Image product to look at separately – maybe a Christmas present for yourself?

    1. Thank you, Eliza! I’ve been thinking the same thing, how good it would be to read “The Outermost House” again this winter…

        1. I haven’t read “Northern Farm.” I’ll have to see if I can find a copy, although our library is closed until December 14 because of the pandemic. Thanks for the suggestion!

    1. Thank you, Donna! Our Thanksgiving was much better than we had imagined it would be. πŸ™‚ I hope yours was wonderful, too!

      1. I am glad yours was better than expected. Ours was small and uneventful. We came home to have the big family holiday dinner, but we all cancelled to stay safe. We’ve already decided to cancel Christmas too. Going to watch grandboys on videochat Christmas morning. Next year, we’ll make up for the lost time!

        1. So true, next year we will embrace Thanksgiving and Christmas with renewed appreciation I’m sure. It’s been difficult not seeing the grandchildren for so long — but I’m glad we’re all safe so far and that we have the magic of video calls. Hope you have a wonderful videochat with your little ones Christmas morning!

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