Sunday, October 2, 2022

A Hot Day at the Seaside

Landlocked no more! I am on a beach, sand under my feet, with the water within reach, salt droplets spraying my face once again.

It is unworldly how much is evoked by mention of the ocean; peace, beauty, lulling, raging, tempestuous, murderous, whatever name one gives it. 

I do not believe I gave it any name growing up, except in picture books or when my grandmother returned from visiting my aunts in California or Hawaii. It was mythical, foreign, powerful, it brought to mind images full of vigor and the quiet of tidepools.

And then we met, really met, when I happened up and over the sand dune and was faced with the vision of such vastness and roaring, beautiful, ordered chaos. The waves, wild and dangerous, nonetheless obey laws of moon, land, and season.

The very way the surf dances and plays invites intrepid humans to do the same on board, boat or on the power of their own strength.

Any time I can, I return.

I do not get author Bill Bryson at all. We are both from Iowa, true, but he claims he cannot fathom a fascination with a large body of water full of salt one arrives at via a long and sandy path. He grew up without it and never missed it, as do millions and millions. I grew up without it and mourn this impoverished childhood. 

I do not live on a coast, the reasons would fill an entire tome, and yet, the call remains in my heart. The gentle lapping on the shore or the bellow of a boisterous sea are music to my forlorn ears, the salt in the air a delicate bouquet to my land-locked nostrils.

G. and I began our stay with a few days on the Atlantic coast to make sure we were not bringing covid with us when we went to visit anyone older and more vulnerable. It was a hot, hot time and the lodgings were filled with hungry mosquitos, but the beach was a stone's throw from the house, as were cafés, bakeries, pizza trucks and a tiny grocery store filled with all one could need...and more. We spent the day in the waves and ate pizzas, bread, paté and cheese at night.

We did it all over again with a cousin a couple weeks later. This time I was able to stay under the beach umbrella a little more, frying a little less. Sunscreen only goes so far, especially when the next round of it has to be mixed with sand.  I had my knitting, done while keeping both eyes on the kids, and they had each other to hang out with.

This is one of the places my interpreting profession has led me. I have an obligation to keep up my second language. Why not on a beach in France? Attention! Vague!

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