Walking through the Sea

Two days ago, I walked from Amrum to Föhr, the sister island just a few kilometers away. When the low tide is timed so that a walk through the tidal flat is possible during the day, guided walking trips from island to island are offered. Until three years ago this was only possible in summer, barefooted. Now the local tidal flat hero introduced winter walks with special rubber trousers. It was fun, lots of information about the nature and the birds and the shells packed into interesting stories and funny jokes. There were 25 of us and we were all given a pair of these angler trousers at the beginning (see photo below). We had to cross a few dykes first and then walk through dunes until we were asked to put on the trousers. Apparently we had a very low low tide yesterday, a few streams we had to wade through were only knee deep which we were told can be much deeper at other times. Our guide was surprised to see the tidal flat so changed after the big storms that came through here recently.

One of the stories he told was about the razor clam, first how French participants of his walks would not stop to tell him about their favorite razor clam recipies. Razor clams are also particularly fast in diving up or down the sand and scientist are now studying the way they dig themselves into the sand. They are planning to build wind energy plants that copy this digging system.

Another story was about the legendary island of Rungholt which sank not far from here in a big flood around the year 1300. Rungholt back then was a platform for merchants from Scandinavia, the Orient and the Mediterranian area to buy and sell their goods.

The islanders also used the turf around their island for making fire. The story goes that they took so much turf from the shores of their island that it weakened the shores and thus lead to the vanishing of the island during the big floods. Our guide pointed out that although the Rungholters kind of knew they were weakening their island, they still continued taking turf. Possibly similar to some of the behavior we are showing today towards the Earth.

Turf can still be found a few centimeters below the layer of sand where we were walking. I was happy to learn that what I had seen the day before at the shore of the beach was not oily sand, but rather pieces of turf.

The weather was perfect for the season and again the sand, the wide views and I don’t know what else reminded me of the desert. I chatted with one of our group and he said he had also wandered about this similarity. And my recent flat mate (there is another room in the place I am renting my room from and we share kitchen and bathroom, I will have changing flat mates all through the month) also mentioned her ‘desert-feeling’ when walking through the dunes. By the way, my current flat mate is here to be an extra in a film production, a German detective story. I am so intrigued by it that I just applied for a position as an extra too. So exciting, waiting for the answer.

The walk to the other island took around four and a half hours, three of those on the tidal flat. After arriving at the other shore we watched the water fill the area that we had just walked through and were taken by a bus to the habour, had some time to walk around and stop for tea to then take the ferry back to Amrum.

During the walk over to the island I tried to get a sense where the area of one island would go over into the area of the other island. Most of the time I was too busy trying to follow the interesting things our guide was saying, however, I had a feeling that there was a kind of no-mans-land in between the islands. Having arrived on Föhr, I tried to connect to the spirit of this island. The spirit seemed to be a funny species, speaking in the local dialect. Later, when walking along the beach close to the habour, it was telling me that it has very different aspects in itself. Very interesting. I am planning to take the ferry over to Föhr and spend a whole day there to get into contact with these different aspects of Föhr and the spirit of Föhr.

Spending time in no-mans-land helps, I think, to get into contact with one’s creativity. In any case, after a conversation with a friend yesterday which helped to open my creativity further, I had a surge of creative ideas. I saw the huge area of sand on Amrum, as a big empty canvas to play with and this is basically only five to 10 minutes from my house. I felt like being on a mission when walking towards the sand yesterday, armed with a wooden spoon to draw in the sand. After some drawing experiments and dancing around them, I took photographs of funny looking dunes. What a joyful place to be in.

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