Net of wonder

The wake of the Diamond Princess off the coast of Mexico, March 2004

The wake of the Diamond Princess off the coast of Mexico, March 2004

“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

An island in itself

This post was first published seven years ago today. The original post, comments and photo are linked, along with two other related posts, below. These links to related posts, and their thumbnail photos, do not appear in the blog feed; they are only visible when viewing the individual posts by clicking on each one. I have no idea why, nor do I know how they choose the related posts. That’s just the way WordPress does things.


  1. I wonder where the most affordable properties are, along the coast? I may have to look that up…. I sure do miss the sea, here in Minnesota!

    • I think much of the Gulf Coast is affordable, as well as the coastline stretching from Tidewater (where my York home is situated) down to Jacksonville, FL. There are variations, of course– and no waterfront property is inexpensive– but some places are much less expensive than others. Happy Hunting!

      • Thanks for the tip on waterfront property!
        The time I met you as I was driving through from New Hampshire to Florida, I stopped the first night in the Outer Banks, which was SO nice, and the second night went on to a little place in South Carolina, which was both beautiful and so packed with mosquitos that I don’t know if I’ll return. (That’s one of those, ” I should send Julia some photos” places that I rarely get around to sending you photos of.)

        • Susan, I’ve toyed with the idea of buying a small place somewhere between the two points you describe, but my practical side says I should just lease a place for a month or so. I’ll let you know if I do! Jeff and I were both surprised how much we loved the Outer Banks. We had feared it would be a tourist-infested cacophony of tacky shops, signs and other unappealing sights. But (perhaps because we did not go during high season) it was remarkably free of crowds– almost deserted, in fact, at the places we chose to go. We loved it. Roanoke Island, which we visited on a subsequent trip, was our favorite, I think. I still have not seen The Lost Colony play, though. Perhaps on one of your visits, we can go there.

          • Thank you for this very encouraging response, Julia. After having visited my parents every couple of months in past years, and of course my weekly flights to or from Boston, this sudden year of no travel has me wondering when, how, or if I’ll ever go anywhere or see anyone (outside of Zoom, Duo, or other online experiences). The thought of actually visiting you AND exploring someplace new is … YAY!!!
            Blessings on your weekend!

            • Thank you, Susan. I’m a bit afraid to say anything this year, after having boldly proclaimed in late 2019 that I was determined to turn some metaphorical corner, and 2020 was going to be the year of travel for me (and we all know how that turned out). Nevertheless, I am still planning to resume travel with renewed gusto, and I’m already taking baby steps (relatively speaking) in that direction. The road awaits, my friend, and meanwhile…your mind can roam freely.

              • Yay! That’s The spirit!
                It sounds as if I won’t be free to roam until possibly autumn, despite many of my friends and relatives being vaccinated much earlier. Even Patrick will be 65 in April and therefore eligible for vaccination. I’m wondering what summer will be like… Probably a good time for travel deals, for the retirement-aged community!

                • Yes, I bet it will be. I’m still not eligible for the vaccine but the doctor says, since I had it, I do have antibodies that should protect me somewhat for at least a few months. By then maybe I can get a vaccine. Matt is already eligible but has not yet had it; it’s pending advice from his cardiology team.

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