“It takes four years for them to become …. comment a dit.. uh… mature,” she explains to me. One hand reaching out toward the many beds that line the coast. The other is carrying what is left of today’s lunch. What she refers to as “la cuisine vite;” a salad made of corn, tomatoes, cheese, and rice.
A woman weathered by time and grace. She speaks and the words fall effortlessly from her mouth. In French. In English. It is all the same. Even when she pauses to find the right words, they always manage to find their way back home.
Another woman, taller in stature but equal in grandeur explains to me, “You never forget; it will always come back.”
I believe her.
As we walk, I think of the oysters. Every low tide, workers march along the oyster beds picking them up, shaking them, and then flipping them over. The process is careful. Meticulous.
There is a rhythm. Every day. They work against the tides and every year, they reap what they sow. A four-year investment. The old are replaced with the new. Life repeats life. The simplicity of repetition.
The gulls on the island follow the same meticulous pattern. They are gentle with their work. They search. They build. They nest. Life repeats life. The simplicity of repetition.
To begin from a single cell. A grain of sand in a sea. That is how we are born. That is how we grow. That is how we learn.
Every day, I am growing.
Like the oyster.
Like the nest.
As sure as the tides return to kiss the shore, the words are returning to me. As sure as the tides run to play with the gulls, the words I have yet to know will soon dance in my head.
Life repeats life. The simplicity of repetition.
I know this to be true.
I taste it as she takes the knife from her bag, kicks a mussel loose from its’ rock, tears the salty meat from its’ shell, and tells me to eat it.
I see it among the flowers and briars that have grown over the manmade bunkers. In the vines that climb up the walls of the stone farmhouses. In the nests in the crevices of a once great fortress.
I hear it in passing conversations. I listen to the birds, the people, the island. I listen. I hear it all and I say nothing. I understand little but I am learning.
There are things only silence can teach you. I am learning this slowly
It is impossible to forget. It will always come back to you.