Wednesday, July 24, 2013

"See the mountains kiss high heaven, And the waves clasp one another . . ."

Discovered this gem by Percy Bysshe Shelley, and I might just need to frame it and put it on my wall. It fills me with all kinds of happy.

Sorry for the brief hiatus after last week's post . . . I didn't mean to leave you guys hanging after all the gloom, because, honest to goodness, we're doing really well.  There are soft spots, now and again, but, for the most part, life is normal and joyous and everything is grand. I just wasn't sure how to follow that with a silly "Friday's Letters" and then, Saturday, I chained myself to my hand-mixer and proclaimed, "THERE SHALL BE COOKIES!!!!"
And, BEHOLD! there were cookies.
Thirteen dozen of them.
When I go big, I go REALLY big.

Ok, so they weren't ALL for the hubs and me.  Chris had requested chocolate chip cookies, and there was a church picnic Sunday night, so I decided, "What the crap? Let's make cookies." And so I did. Despite their massive success and subsequent exodus at the church beach picnic, there are still WAY too many cookies in my house. Somebody else please come over and eat them all before I do. Please and thank you.

Anyways, this post was supposed to be about the ocean, but, per the usual, I had to rave about sweets first.

I don't always realize how much I miss the sea until I see it.
Growing up in Florida, the beach is a pretty regular experience.  I didn't go as often as I would have liked, but I loved it.
When I was little, my favorites were building drip sand castles with my mom, hunting mole crabs, and pretending to be a mermaid.
As a teen, I loved boogie boarding and swimming out to the sandbars, delightfully ignorant about the swarms of sharks that probably accompanied us. I still choose to be delightfully ignorant. Sharks are awesome, and, really, nothing so much as touched my leg all the years I swam in the warm, murky Atlantic. I've never even seen one.
As I grew older, I grew to appreciate the lonely ocean walk, drinking in the sights and the smells, feeling the waves lap at my toes. I'd still wade, but I swam less, walked more. Some of my favorite memories with Chris are chatting as we walked hand-in-hand along the stretch of beach.  I think that's why he proposed on the beach at sunset after the space shuttle had soared through the sky, leaving a pillar of orange and red in its wake. That's why we took all three of our previous anniversaries at Sanibel Island, in the Gulf of Mexico, where the water is still and clear as blue frosted glass. Because I love the sea, and Chris loves that I love it.

I always remember how big the world is when I see the ocean, a creature all in its own right with moods and passions.  It's calm, soothing, and then roaring rage. There is an ENTIRE world hidden inside it, a world of which humans have barely scratch the surface. There are so many creatures, so many places, that fascinate and terrify us.  It speaks to me. Water has always spoken to me--in the ponds, rivers, and the seas. I have always loved water.
One day, I am determined to be a mermaid.

When we moved to the West Coast from the East Coast, I knew that the ocean would be very different. I had grown up on the shores of the Atlantic--they're smooth, sandy, and the waves predictable. It grows cold enough in our sparse winter months, but, during the long, hot summer, the water's perfect. Cool enough to be refreshing but not cold enough to freeze.  As a kid, we learned the danger of riptides and how to escape them.  We learned the value and the risks of sandbars, how to cure jellyfish stings, all that jazz. We learned how the Atlantic brings hurricanes and how to properly prepare, but, in the end, we flocked to it in droves to lay on the sand in our bikinis and drink in the sunlight. The Atlantic is easy.

The Pacific is an entirely different beast.  It is glorious in its fury.  I do not ever see myself wading in the Pacific--it's too cold, too rocky, too wild. Mostly it's just plain COLD.  When we go to the beach here, we go fully clothed with no expectation or illusions about wading. Sure, I'll take off my shoes and walk along the shore, but I tease the waves. Sometimes, I'm brave enough and it's almost warm enough. This weekend the picnic took place at a West Coast beach that, for the first time, reminded me of my old East Coast haunts, so I walked where my feet were constantly kissed by the dying stretches of the waves, damp and soaking. I think I was only able to do that for two reasons:
  • One, I was DESPERATE for some oceanic connection.
  • And, two, I didn't realize my feet had gone numb. 
The Pacific  holds the absolutely most stunning shades of blues and greens I've ever seen. There are mountains to one side and a seemingly endless expanse of blue on the other. I love the rocks that form tidepools filled with tiny creatures. I love the wildness of it. I love the contrasts--the sandy beach against rocky cliffs.  I am completely in awe and in love. I can't help it.

 When I see the ocean, there is an ache inside me. I don't know if you have a place that does that for you. For my husband, it's the mountains. For my sister-in-law, it's her favorite clothing stores. For me, it has always been the sea. I stand there, gaping at it, everything inside me all aflutter and bursting.  It was the same feeling on my wedding day, right before we marched down the aisle. Bursting. A joy that aches in its beauty. I can't get enough.

Sometimes, I just sit in silence and want to be perfectly alone.  Most times, however, I'm a bundle of energy. I quite literally frolic. I'm all gasps and squeals at the littlest things because I am in awe. The world is so big and I am so small, and the ocean is glorious.  I can't find anything ugly in the ocean. I'm sure I could, if I really looked, but, quite honestly, I find everything about it glorious, especially after a long hiatus.
"Chris, even the corpses that come out of the ocean are lovely!" I burst out during our last trip, gathering up the shells of deceased mollusks and sand dollars.
"There are so many things wrong with that statement, I don't even know where to start," he replied, and limited me to two sand dollars and two shells, because, otherwise, I very likely would have brought home buckets.
But that's what I'm like at the ocean: a child in a treasure chest.



  1. Water is so special. I prefer mine blue, but I live on the gulf coast, so we don't see too much blue. Your pictures are fabulous.

  2. Umm, thirteen dozen cookies is alot. I usually keep all my baking to winter, because it's been 80-86 degrees inside our house the majority of the summer.
    And I like the mermaid plan. I love being near the ocean too.

  3. I'm so glad things are going better and that you got to spend such wonderful time at the beach!!! Do you want to mail any of you 13 dozen cookies to me??? ;-)

  4. i feel so at peace when i'm near or in or on the water

  5. There is nothing like reading your writing. You have such a gift to place me exactly where you are! Love you tons. Mum


Good morning, Starshine! The Earth says, "Hello!"