What do professors do with their sabbaticals?

If you are Margaret Soltan, among the projects you might undertake are blog posts that capture vividly the experience of being by the sea in the off-season. Between land and water is a philosophical verge. Professor Soltan captures her own moment of drift in prose passage that reads like poetry.

An excerpt:

Off-season, the sand is a library. Wordcombers space themselves along the shore, place blankets on their legs, and hunch over books. Fishermen page through magazines while tending their lines. Heads are bowed.

Of course the heads of gulls are bowed as they scan the breakers for fish, and when the dolphins leap their heads are bowed. The fool with the metal detector bows his head.

Everyone seems to be thinking hard, or praying. The water and the sky bleach out unnecessary words, leaving each beachgoer a simple mental plank on which can be read personal messages.

I look for written things – not sea glass bottles, but stones with black lines across them like sentences, and sentiments scratched into the sand with toes, and shells incised on castles in some sort of code.

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