In Joan Anderson’s book, A Year by the Sea: Thoughts of an Unfinished Woman, she shares how she comes to find out harbor seals and gray seals hang out in the waters of Cape Cod during the winter and ends up swimming with them as part of her spiritual journey. I made a similar discovery last December – albeit without the swim – when my sister and I were taking a walk in Ellisville Harbor State Park in Ellisville, Massachusetts, about five minutes from the Sagamore Bridge.We heard a strange noise and, having just finished Joan’s book, I had a hunch as to what it was. We quickly walked down the path to the beach and, much to our delight, found that each large rock exposed in the low tide was a sunning spot for one, two, sometimes three seals!
We must have hung out on the beach for at least an hour, watching the seals lazily sprawled out on the rocks. They watched us, too, quizzically as if they knew we wouldn’t dare jump into the chilly waters to reach them but perhaps wondering why we would even brave the cold to be standing there, watching them. Every so often one would roll off into the water and take a swim. It was amazing how they maneuvered their bodies up and over the rocks.
There was something peaceful about being on an empty beach, just my sister and I and the seals. We were respectful to each others’ space, both parties visitors to some degree in this winter oasis. There was a quiet that was more than noticeable, but accommodating to thought and reflection. I found that on subsequent trips to our cottage (walking distance from Ellisville Harbor) I could not wait to wake up and walk to the beach to visit “my seals.” This has become a ritual for me with each visit until they leave to give birth to their pups during the summer in Maine.
So special was our weekend with the seals that my sister and I planned a return trip – same time, same place – for this year. In fact, we are bringing along our good friends for a girls weekend. While we look forward to conversation, dinner and some holiday shopping in Hyannis, what I most look forward to is a walk to the water – and a chance to introduce them to the seals.