Behind a dense tussock of saw grass I spotted a line of raccoon tracks. I stooped for a closer look. As I did, a thin veneer of sea water slipped up and quickly filled each track, one toe-print at a time. In a few minutes, these tracks along with traces of countless other life-defining moments in countless tiny lives will be washed away. Charybdis was exhaling and she holds her breath for no man.
There is something very special about myths like Charybdis, the Greek goddess of tides. Her story gives us an image of the land as a living, breathing being—an image that’s far more powerful than any telling of the science. To the Greeks, tides were not the rising and falling of sea level, but the land itself rising and dipping into the sea. It was the slowly heaving breast of Charybdis. It’s a beautiful image that has stayed with me since I first learned it in grade school. With our culture becoming increasingly disconnected from nature, it seems a worthwhile exercise to conjure the image of Charybdis once in a while and imagine the world as a living, breathing being.
Fernandina Beach. Charybdis exhales