Be here now. I have a little stone that says that, and I keep it on my desk as a reminder to not be so engaged in work that I forget about the rhythms of life. And yet, it’s so easy to fall into that trap.

Not here. The compelling presence of the Indian River Lagoon demands attention. Its shifting waters shimmer with the play of natural light all day, whether the skies are blue or gray. The surface changes in response to heat, wind, and the creatures that ply its shallows.

I started this essay in my head, and then the dolphins appeared. At first, just two were rounding up fish. Then the pod appeared, and the waters rippled with their hunting, sleek gray bodies against liquid silver and the explosions of small fish into the air. As I watched intently, a flock of roseate spoonbills soared towards me, pink feathers catching the light. A second line of birds followed, this time ibis, with a distinctly different flap.

I have never lived on big water before, water that fills the horizon, an ever-changing liquid yard. In a year of tragedy and tumult, the lagoon is grounding me, a concept I’ve grasped towards for two months while dealing with my mother’s death and my mother-in-law’s terrible illness. For the first time in years, I feel the stress melting away. We were fortunate to find this rental, a God-given gift by a lady, who was sure this space would bring us peace and comfort. And so it has.

Today is my sister Susan’s birthday. The pain of that memory crippled me on the Appalachian Trail, and we left the trail this day in 2012. Seventeen years ago, Susan was the first big loss in my life. I think of her love of the water, her sailing on the Ionian Sea, and I know why the dolphins are here.