The sea measures time by its motion. Not the ticking of a clock, but the surge and withdrawal of the surf, in a vast and ceaseless rhythm.

This is the sea beneath the ancient fort of Dun Aengus on the Aran Island of Inishmore. We lay on our bellies and looked down, mesmerized.

My mother’s watch, that I’d had with me since she died, chose this moment to slip from my pocket and disappear.

Hurricanes are called cyclones in the southern hemisphere. This is Hokianga, on New Zealand’s North Island, as Cyclone Lucy was coming in.

The differences between one moment and the next can be subtle and easy to miss.

The wind swirled sand in waves along the beach.

This is the Tasman sea, along the Kapiti Coast of New Zealand. Kapiti Island, about three miles off shore, is now a bird sanctuary. When the seas are rough, as they often are, the island is unapproachable.

Kapiti Island was once base of operations for renowned Maori chief and war leader Te Rauparaha. He staged war parties from there, and celebrated victories there afterwards, feasting on, among other things, the vanquished.

Farther up the coast is a town called Paraparaumu, which loosely translated means “Place where many people were killed and eaten.”

Kapiti Island, looming behind the rows of breakers coming in to the beach at Paekakariki.