Going To the Ocean

I went to see the ocean the other day. Most people would say that they went to the beach, and I did that, but I had come to see the great ocean-sea. I have been to other oceans, other seas, and found them beautiful, sometimes seductive, always fascinating, but none of them are the ocean of my heart. Only the wild Pacific, the great ocean-sea, the stuff of legends and dreams, whales and whalers, surfers and Eskimos chasing dinner in their kayaks.The ocean of my childhood. I sat on the sand in a lawn chair (in deference to my knees) and stared at the water. Not being a sun worshiper (sun worshiping Oregonians have to go elsewhere for their fixes) I wear jeans and a sweat shirt. There is a jacket in the car, after all, this is the Oregon coast in early May. Since my mother had melanoma I wear a big straw hat too. You have to tie it on unless you want to spend the day chasing it. Watching the waves roll in gives me such peace that it becomes almost palatable, radiating off of me in some giant aura. I sit there and smell the comfortable, salty, dead fish and rotten seaweed smell that belongs to the ocean and watch the surf, and the seagulls as they soar and squabble. It would be nice to claim deep thoughts, but if I think about anything it is usually the japanese current which runs the pacific ocean. The water before me has come recently from Japan, by way of the frozen north. It is on its way to Hawaii and South America, Australia and Borneo. It has touched the shore of Africa. I wish to learn its secrets, but it is unlikely to tell me, the inscrutable sea. Sometimes I think about all the things that live within it, their lives, their feelings and their journeys. What it must be like to have the freedom of the entire ocean. A whale, with no alarm clock, that travels from pole to pole, wherever the mood and the krill take it. An Orca, hunting seals, an octopus with their odd locomotion skittering across the sandy reefs, tangling myself in my many arms, even a fat bull walrus, bossing the girl walruses and crashing my body against the other males for dominance of my walrus tribe. occasionally I wonder what it would be like to be a sailor, living my life on a rolling deck in the middle of that vast trackless wilderness that is the face of the ocean, knowing her in all her moods, the excitement of a new port on the horizon. Then I think about all the times I have been to the ocean, going clear back to when I was a child, chasing waves with my brother and sisters. Clam digging and crab pots, shrimp guns, boat rides in the bays, fishing for flounder, that time we caught a baby octopus in a tide pool, the harbor seal that almost came up in the boat, the red worm-like critter my sister was so proud of finding right up until it stung her, funny stories and serious coming of age. We grew up here as much as anywhere and it weaves itself into your soul. I have seen it in sun and in shadow, even in raging storms, its power calls me and calms me. It is one of the places my heart lives. Mostly though, I think of nothing at all. I just am alive, happy and free. It is more than enough.

 

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