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Moon and Tides

Monday, April 12, 2021

Quite early this morning I happened to check the local tide tables at almost exactly the moment of maximum low tide . . . and so Henry and I walked down to the shore to take a look. Silvery grey waves, a silvery grey sky, and the mostly-rocky shore exposed with some clam shells on the red red sand.


Born in the heart of Ontario, I always loved summer time visits to the small northern forested lakes and to the oceanic Great Lakes too -- Lake Ontario, Lake Erie, Lake Superior. But I did not see actual ocean for the first time until I was in my mid-20s, teaching art history and travelling with a group of colleagues to Greece, Turkey and Egypt. It was the Mediterranean . . . the wine-dark Aegean Sea of ancient myth. Salty ocean breezes, and above all the constant change of the tides: so different from lakes, like the pulse of a living thing. Instantly compelling. And so when we've travelled for birding vacations over the years, whenever possible I have tried to find us a place on the ocean, preferably west facing into the sunset.

We all vaguely "know" that the moon affects the tides . . . but how wonderful that in this age of the internet, it's just a matter of a few clicks to learn something about how it happens!! Two high tides a day, two low tides a day, and not happening at exactly the same time each day but shifting roughly 50 minutes a day . . . since the earth rotates around the moon but the moon also rotates around the earth.

What's our moon phase right now? A moonless night tonight: the moon and sun and earth "lined up". For maximum gravitational pull. "Spring" tide: not "spring" as in season of the year but "spring" as in "puling hardest". Tomorrow night, newest of the new moons, that thin crescent fingernail beginning its "waxing" cycle. At full moon . . . "neap" tide . . . when the gravitational pull is weakest and the high and low tides show least gravitational difference.

Did I get that right? Just getting started at figuring it out here! And yes, it's more complicated than that because the moon's orbit is elliptical . . . so we have perigee (closest, largest) and apogee (furthest, smallest) moons with corresponding local tide effects.


And then the moon also wobbles a bit on its own axis as it turns . . . and yes, that has effect on brilliance of light and gravity perceived moon size and tides and: the mind wobbles, in sympathy!!

But it's lovely to think that high tide and low tide have been happening in this harbour for decades and centuries and millennia before me. And will continue long long after me too. I am frankly not sure I want to "understand" it all, even if I could . . . since most of those who came before me could not, did not . . . and there's an ineffable mystery, a not-knowing which only adds to the power of our perception of this ocean in this universe.

Remember that old sly saying, about romance . . . "The moon affects the tide and also the untied" . . those courting, those not yet joined in marriage.

Those of us in relationships do feel tied to each other, sometimes more and sometimes less! . . . but all of us, to greater and to lesser degrees, feel tied to this earth as well.

And I sometimes wonder (with my Scots/Viking heritage) how many of my ancient ancestors were sea-going explorers. Fascinated by the oceans on which they sailed -- as tied to the tides as I am discovering myself to be.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    I love the tang of salt in the air up north. I especially love it when it catches you by surprise with a sudden shift in wind. Having spent most of my life near the coast, it smells like home to me. (Florida smells very different, murkier)
    15 days ago
    I love the tang of salt in the air up north. I especially love it when it catches you by surprise with a sudden shift in wind. Having spent most of my life near the coast, it smells like home to me. (Florida smells very different, murkier)
    15 days ago
    17 days ago
  • NANCY-
    Yes the tides are interesting. I would keep tabs on the tide when scheduling my vacation for maximum enjoyment. Don't want strong tides with little ones. However I did want strong tides when I schedule my trip to Nova Scotia to see the tidal bore on the Salmon River in Truro.
    The power of water is to be respected.
    20 days ago
  • BJAEGER307
    22 days ago
  • no profile photo INCH_BY_INCH
    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon
    22 days ago
    The ocean can be so peaceful and calming, but also fierce and mighty. Just think , the tides helped free the ship stuck in the canal...a mighty force to reckon with.

    22 days ago
    This is thanks to the moon that the cargo ship that was stuck in the Panama Canal a few weeks ago was able to get freed...
    23 days ago
    Growing up in Nova Scotia, we have always had an interest in tides.
    23 days ago
    You better watch out, you are going to get a lot of people visiting your part of the earth! You make it sound so beautiful! That area of Canada has been on my bucket list for about 20 years now. One day when I am retired, I will make it!
    23 days ago
    Ha ha when I worked in a call centre with a Full moon the phone calls were definitely taxing :), we all commented on it :)
    23 days ago
    What a tricky subject you brought up. I hate to say this but I think men understand it much more that I do. But you are on your way to understanding I think. (((HUGS)))
    23 days ago
    Thanks for the memory and long forgotten science behind it all.
    Long ago living in Brooklyn I was more aware of the tides mostly as where to place our blankets on the beach LOL Forgot a lot after being landlocked for so many decades.
    23 days ago
    23 days ago
    I can remember working in the ER. We ALWAYS knew it was going to be crazy busy and it ALWAYS was during the full moon.

    There is something just calming about the ocean. And the moon definitely affects our bodies in the same way. Since we are composed of so much water, the moon affects us in a bit of the same way it does the tides! Interesting thought.

    23 days ago

    Comment edited on: 4/13/2021 7:31:02 AM
    I love visiting the ocean, watching its restless waves on the shore. Each day is so different.

    23 days ago
    What exciting explorations you can make -- everyday!
    Now that's what I call living your best life!
    23 days ago
    When I first moved to the maritimes I wondered how a landlocked prairie girl ended up by the ocean but now I recognize that the "pull of the tides" pulled me here. The rhythm of the tides changing and the crashing of waves is an unique heartbeat that draws us in and at least for me gives me a place of calmness.
    We have many groups of eider ducks here at the moment, they are fun to watch as they dive and bob and like puffins are quite comical in appearance. I hope they are frequenting your bay as well.
    23 days ago
    Moving near the water's edge - brings you to a whole new culture -- with its unique elements, stories and metaphors. It can be fun discovering all of them

    23 days ago
    Another blog that stirs memories, and possibly a shade of jealousy! If you look at a map, you see that Nebraska, where I was born and grew up, is land-locked. Not even a whole lot of lakes, at least of any size.

    I was exposed to the lake my grandfather fished, and to a park called Crystal Springs as a young child, but certainly not on an ongoing daily basis. I didn't walk on an ocean beach until I was in my 30's! So hearing that your first exposure was in your 20's brought that back to mind.

    In fact, the ONLY time I was ever at an ocean shore long enough to observe the tides was a trip to the Jersey Shore when my son was maybe 4 or 5 years old. My husband and his sister, our son and her two children went down and stayed for a little less than a week. It was a very peaceful thing to observe the timing of the tides, to go out and sit on the beach to watch the sun rise, to be there long enough to see the receding and encroaching of the water on the shore. Ahhh! We didn't have any stormy weather that week, so that's a flavor of ocean behavior I'd not observed, but I often think back to that week and "miss" seeing the shore.

    Thank you for the link, and for the observations... I can tell this PEI experience is going to be a very enriching chapter in your life! emoticon emoticon emoticon
    23 days ago
    Thank you so much for the great blog post. It was so interesting.
    23 days ago
    Very interesting! What a great video! That is an incredible difference in the height of that water! Glad you are finding a new interest to indulge in. Did you find out how long it normally takes a tide to come in or go out?
    Being as far away from a sea as you can get, its all new stuff to me.
    So glad you are in a safe place. The Covid numbers in Ontario are horrible :-(
    23 days ago
    Yes, it’s funny how we take some things for granted when we grow up around them, and other things are a fun revelation waiting for us as adults when we move to a new place!

    Some things I took for granted, growing up on the coast of CA:
    - tides (which is why your blog made me think of this)
    - drought
    - earthquakes
    - multicultural surroundings
    - landslides
    - wildfires

    Things I “discovered” much later as an adult upon moving to other areas:

    - Cardinals (they’d always seemed like a mythical Xmas thing, on Christmas cards, and never actually seen in nature)
    - snow falling (I’d only really ever seen it, already on the ground, in the Sierras)
    - Crunchy ice puddles after a hard frost
    - tornadoes, hurricanes
    - big skies
    - fireflies
    - Fall colors (distinct seasons, in general!)
    - Various names for submarine sandwiches

    23 days ago
  • EOWYN2424
    thanks for sharing!

    Have a great week!
    23 days ago
  • PHOENIX1949
    Enjoyed the blog & links.

    In my childhood, our summer vacation was to visit family in Galveston on the Gulf of Mexico. It has been far too long since I've been near any ocean. Road trips took us to the Atlantic along U.S.coastal States (plus air travel to Cozumel Island) and Pacific (coast of California drive, British Isles ***OOPS ! relocated the British Isles*** -- and ferry boat to Vancouver Island).

    Since I seriously sunburn very quickly, it's best for me to enjoy the waves and smells from a balcony overlooking the beach. My 3 sisters and I had a girl's trip scheduled for 2020 that has been delayed until . . ..

    Health issues have seriously curtailed my traveling days but Galveston has some very fine medical facilities and my sisters all have common sense so I decided to go for it in an historic hotel that has some rooms for those with serious allergy issues and menus with gluten-free, lactose-free, sulfate-free, soy-free.

    23 days ago

    Comment edited on: 4/12/2021 9:19:42 AM
    Why, thank you for that explanation, or at least adding some unknown details about the tides.
    And also thank you for letting me off the hook by saying it’s much more complicated than even that.
    I married into a seafaring family and have lived near oceans most of my life but still don’t understand the tides.
    23 days ago
    Wow, whatever that alignment pull has been, I felt it very strongly on Saturday.
    23 days ago
    Your words paint such a vivid mental picture. emoticon for the blog. emoticon
    23 days ago
    What delightful new vocabulary! As I read, I glanced up at the clock on the wall that shows new moon. I think I'll try to find it outdoors in a few minutes! I have always loved the work of the tides, preferring low tides as a youngster at the shore, so I could play at the sandbar without fear!
    23 days ago
    I lived on a bay. Low tide was very evident! Just sniff!
    How fun it was to watch clams "spit" and fiddler crabs perform their dances before the water would flood back in.
    23 days ago
    Living on tidal water as I do - I savor the ebb and flow. Here it's all a gentle movement - we are 100 miles from the ocean. But some spring tides are so glorious that you can just roll off the dock into the water without ever diving.

    I wish you years of this joyful friendship with the moon, the tides and the universe
    23 days ago
  • no profile photo MLR_00
    23 days ago
  • HUNTER0077
    Thanks for blogging. emoticon

    emoticon emoticon emoticon
    23 days ago
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