The Suitcase Lady

Waves

December 15, 2015, 7:47 pm

It’s been a tough year for the trees along our shoreline. Many of them have been upended by the waves and are scattered helter-skelter along the beach. Taking a beach walk these days involves much climbing over felled tree trunks, ducking under limbs at rakish angles or parting branches to make an opening big enough to squeeze through.

The wonder of living beside a huge lake is that the scene constantly changes. Some days the beach will be an expanse of pure, smooth sand without a rock or shell in sight. Other days are a rock hunter’s paradise with the sand completely hidden by piles of stones, shells and beach glass. Uncertainty is the only certainty.

IMG_0243Like many people, I navigate through the world dependent on landmarks. I can usually return to places I have been by remembering visual clues….a church on a corner, a prominent building, a stand of pines, a river. The beach plays havoc with landmarks.

Our neighbors to the north had a porch swing on their beach. Last week I discovered their swing south of us and almost completely buried under piles of sand. Wide beaches become small and small ones grow large overnight.

This perpetual re-creation of the shoreline is the result of wave energy. While the results of wave energy are explicit, I have always found the physics of waves difficult to grasp. Here is the most accessible definition I have come across:

Waves involve the transport of energy without the transport of matter. A wave can be described as a disturbance that travels through a medium, transporting energy from one location to another location without transporting matter.

Think of people doing The Wave in a stadium. They don’t all rush forward on to the field. They move up and down in place which is what water does when the wave energy passes through.

Everyday, giant engineering projects are happening on beaches all around the world. Mother Nature likes to keep things moving.

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