cliffs at Drakes Beach in Point Reyes National
does New Mexico cope?
covers just 0.2 percent of the Land of Enchantment, Census
Bureau statistics show, making it the driest state by
percentage of land area. It’s not that most of its 2.1
million residents can’t get a drink from the tap; ground
and surface water see to that.
New Mexico, like 15 other states, is landlocked. The broad
middle swath of the country plus Vermont are missing out
on the aural benefits of the ocean — the sound of waves,
for instance, as they break on a beach in a sort of
unsynchronized water ballet.
tones and their constancy are balm for the brain. If this
is so, the National Park Service holds the key to a
600,000-acre medicine cabinet.
park service has gathered within its fold 10 national
seashores that are protected in perpetuity. Point Reyes
National Seashore in Marin County, Calif., is the only
West Coast entity, although one day there may be more,
assuming coastal quibbling can be overcome.
within its storehouse of 412 units, the park service has
four national lakeshores, all on the Great Lakes, five
national rivers and 10 wild and scenic riverways.
disparate, all share water as their common denominator.
visitors, the appeal, at first glance, may be recreational
opportunities — boating, swimming, fishing and more.
you need not put forth any effort to enjoy the benefits of
these watery wonderlands. You only have to listen.
sound is "high enough in amplitude that it blocks out
other sounds," said Erik Miller-Klein, an engineer
and partner in A3 Acoustics in Seattle.
noises and the clack of shopping carts could be heard in
the background as he talked while he walked toward a
shopping center. But if he had been next to a water
feature — a man-made waterfall, for instance —
"you’d just hear sh-h-h-h, sh-h-h-h," making
conversations and almost anything else indistinguishable.
that "masking" effect with an ocean’s rhythms
— they are "probably very similar to a really good
breathing pattern" that encourages relaxation, he
said — and you have a sort of cocoon into which your
brain can burrow with no more effort than cocking an ear.
result of listening to that continuous soundtrack? A drop
in blood pressure, which suggests relaxation, said Dr.
Jennifer Derebery, an associate partner at House Clinic in
Los Angeles and a clinical professor of otolaryngology at
reduction is almost certainly an unintended consequence of
the park service’s move to protect these seashores and
their cousin, the lakeshores.
Carolina’s Cape Hatteras was established by Congress in
1937 as the first national seashore to protect a unique
environment and shelter its species, many now threatened
or endangered, said Darrell Echols, acting deputy regional
director for resource stewardship and science for the
Southeast region of the National Park Service.
it was also a way to ensure that city dwellers would have
an escape hatch.
everybody had a car, and trains didn’t get to Hatteras,
so it was an effort to get to the Outer Banks," he
said of those early visitors to that string of North
Carolina barrier islands.
"got them away from large urban areas to a wild place
for a kind of experience like what some of our Western
parks (visitors) were experiencing, which was some
solitude, some opportunities to recreate by themselves
without the influence of other people and other demands on
seashores still sing a siren song. "Everything at the
beach is encouraging you to slow down," Miller-Klein
said, noting that you’re probably also getting a dose of
vitamin-D-rich sunlight that contributes to a feeling of
John F. Kennedy, addressing America’s Cup crews in
Newport, R.I., on Sept. 14, 1962, just a day after
designating Point Reyes as a national seashore, explained
our bond with the water, with the waves.
all came from the sea," said Kennedy, an avid sailor.
"We have salt in our blood, in our sweat, in our
tears. We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to
the sea, whether it is to sail or to watch it, we are
going back from whence we came."
carefully and you’ll hear the ocean welcoming you home.