My husband and I were just in Southern California and spent most of our time near the ocean – driving along the Pacific Coast Highway, walking on beaches and on cliffs above the sea, looking at boats in the harbors, and kayaking in Newport Bay. (But no sunbathing; not active enough for Al.)
I was born in the desert of Eastern Washington and have lived in the Midwest for over thirty years. But there is something about the sea that speaks to my soul. The wind in my hair, the surf at my feet, the cry of the gulls – all call to me in a primitive tongue louder than the troubles of my daily life.
I don’t know why I love the ocean so much.
Maybe it is the memory of California summers with my grandmother, who took us to the beach in Pacific Grove. My family and I visited her several summers during my grade school years for a month at a time. We swam in a gentle cove, built sand castles, and captured hermit crabs to lug home in buckets (none survived more than a day). The days were warm, the saltwater tangy, and the snow cones sweet.
Maybe it is the beauty of the colors of an autumn trip along the coast of Maine with that same grandmother, where the sea was as blue as the leaves were orange. The frigid waters did not invite more than a toe, and the wildness of the waves left me to wonder at the bravery of Pilgrims from a far-off continent.
Maybe it is the peacefulness of breakfast beside the beach in Maui with my daughter. Eggs and bacon and sparrows that begged for toast. And one morning, a rainbow to brighten the day.
Or maybe it is the decadence of life along the Palm Beach shore. I spent a day once salivating at the sight of mansions I can’t even dream of owning and eating high tea at the Flagler Museum – a real treat for someone from meat-and-potatoes land.
Whatever the reason, when I am near the ocean my spirit lifts and my cares melt away. Just for the moment, when I turn my face into the wind, my soul soars like the gulls that fly to greet the rainbow.
I count a year fortunate when I can get to the ocean. By that reckoning, 2012 is a good year.