Net of wonder
“The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever.”
— Jacques Yves Cousteau
After spending 21 of the past 24 years living near the ocean, I have no desire to live very far inland. It’s interesting, because I don’t have any of the interests one might normally associate with coastal living. I don’t fish, I’m not a very good swimmer, and I never go scuba diving or even snorkeling. I don’t spend much time in boats, although I might enjoy that. I don’t even like seafood.
But there’s something about being near the ocean that feels more free, more healthy and more alive to me. There’s something about having land on one side and water on the other; something about always having an orientation; a compass of sorts, merely by knowing which side the ocean lies on. It gives a frame of reference from which to start, no matter what direction you want to travel, with the promise of unseen continents to explore, lying on the other side of the water.
And then there’s the water itself; the sound of the surf, and salt-air breezes, and the gulls flying over. I love the bridges and the marinas and the incomparable sunsets over the water. There’s a feeling of expansive serenity at the ocean that I don’t find anywhere else.
Sometimes when I’m working in our wooded lot I will forget how close to the water we are, until I’m digging and come on a bed of oyster shells (which Jeff suspects are left there by critters who dig them out of the creek) or hear the sound of gulls overhead, as I used to hear long ago when working in our back yard surrounded by eucalyptus trees on the central coast of California. It’s doubly appealing to be in a wooded area but still near enough to the ocean to hear the gulls.
Of course, every region has its appeal, whether the landscape is dessert, mountains or plains. But even if you strongly favor inland living, I highly recommend escaping now and then to the sea, if only in imagination or via a virtual tour online. The spell might not be as strong as if you were there in person, but the net of wonder cast by the ocean is far-reaching and rejuvenating.
One year ago today