Earlier this year, archeologists positively identified human footprints that had been encased in sediment and preserved off the coast of Canada for the past 13,000 years. The fossilized footprints capture a single journey across what was then the beach, and we are incredibly fortunate to still have them. Because the ocean isn’t much of a curator, more of an iterator. She never stops wearing down our coastlines, while at the same time, building up others.

The northern Oregon outcrop called Haystack Rock is a basalt colum, formed about 15 million years ago when lava flowed down from the Blue Mountains. Presumably, the rock was happily married to the mainland, before the sea found a weakness and wore away its connection and left it, strange and isolated, on Cannon Beach, where an estimated 200,000 pairs of footprints visit it every year. Smashed daily by the wild Pacific, and whipped by ferocious storms, it too will one day succumb to the ocean, turning back to the sand it once was, and deposited elsewhere on another shore.