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The sea arrests the gaze. Born from the partnership of lunar-induced tides and distant winds, the waves are mesmerizing to both the lonely and the loved.

These temperamental liquid legions can be rhythmic and quiet. On the same day they can wildly chase each other to the shore.

We recently returned from the most northerly Hawaiian island, Kauai. While there I became imbued with the ocean and its moods. As a wave watcher I was not alone. There were others who were far more skilled in reading the nuances of the pounding surf than this terrestrial organism from the Midwest.

I enjoyed watching the veteran surfers, easily identified by their surf boards, bronzed bodies and often sun-bleached hair. Prior to getting wet, they stood alone or in twos or threes, pointing seaward and discussing the conditions of the ocean’s rhythm. They saw things that my untrained eyes failed to see.

Off to my right, children screamed in delight as they entered the surf with cautious steps. Soon they playfully tumbled in the tireless playground of crashing waves.

Fifty yards to my left a middle-aged woman sat on the beach with a tablet on her lap. Periodically she looked up to watch the waves, then scribbled something on her pad. Was she an artistintent on conveying the meld of bright blues, shades of turquoise and their tumultuous convergence into an explosion of whiteness? Perhaps she was a poet seeking words to paint the crash of water, the beat of the ocean and its marriage to the horizon.

With my fondness of birds, I was distracted from surfers, children and artists when another wave watcher caught my eye. A wandering tattler, a long-legged shorebird, lighted at the edge of the waves’ hissing reach.

The tattler danced back and forth between ocean and beach. The scurrying stopped when the bird probed its long slender beak into the wet sand for tiny invertebrate left uncovered by each receding oceanic pulse. And soon, the tattler will migrate over the ocean to the North American sub-arctic to nest.

With an hour remaining before sunset, an older Hawaiian man wearing a backpack walked along the beach carrying a pair of long fishing poles. He paused at the edge of the hissing surf and studied the waves. Not satisfied, he moved on. Finally he stabbed the long butts of his fishing poles into the sand, took off his pack and began the business of readying and baiting his poles. He was fishing papio, a type of jack fish that school off the edge of wave breaks. These fish are popular cuisine among the locals.

It hardly seems possible you can fish in the onslaught of such waves but after a long cast he opened the bail of his spinning rod and let the line spool freely off his reel. He understood that the energy of the undertow would carry his weighted bait beneath the tumultuous waves out to where the fish might be. And in less than fifteen minutes he reeled in his first of several papio.

With the sun dropping into the horizon of the western ocean, the gilded, tireless waves took on an ephemeral color that waxed sentimental.

The families and the wave-weary kids were gone. Only one surfer remained diligent sitting on his board waiting for one more ride. The artist had packed up and left and the tattler had flown. The fisherman stayed put watching the tip of his rod while we packed up to head out.

As we walked towards the embering sunset, we couldn’t help but spy a pair of embracing young wave watchers. Hugging fiercely in the surf, they stared like an “amen” towards the disappearing sun as it was swallowed by chevrons of seemingly never-ending waves.