Amid the storms, we respect and admire the power of the sea.
Hope you enjoy my latest short piece (slightly fiction). I have a yearning to write again…… Allison
Saturday, October 10, 2020
“No matter what ails ya, the ocean will fix it, body, mind and soul.”
That is what my grandpa used to say.
I believed him and most often it was true. When the big one got away, when I lost my retriever, when I failed my entrance exam, when I had my first wreck, had my first heartache. Anytime I was back on the Gulf Coast close enough to feel the ocean, life’s bumps and bruises would mend much easier.
I also learned that living on the gulf is not for the weak at heart.
Ours was a rare spot, with access from the bay and across to the ocean. The old barnacle encrusted pier base is still the same but over the years the rest has been repaired, shored up and manipulated to fight time. The small walk down a gravel road, across the dunes, through sea oats, each time is a vigil. It is a decompressing of sorts, as city and town fade away with each breath of salt air and scampering crab that welcomes my truth.
There is something about the unrestful spot at the edge of the sea that brings you immediately to a place of balance. Even later in life when hardship, death, divorce and near bankruptcy cloud the peacefulness that I crave, she does not fail me.
I have been going to the same spot of sand since I learned to walk. My footprints have been planted beside a great grandfather, a grandfather, mother and a sister hundreds of times over the years. Even the ghost of my father lingers there. On the evenings that the sea and sand beats against my legs my life story in that moment is churned, calmed, the bad times somehow erased. I wrestle with its sounds, its motion until I am at peace. The water then gently erases my path along the shore, leaving clear spaces for others to make their marks.
All of my yesterdays on the coast are mixed with the anticipation of today like a jambalaya of time.
My sister and I would bury each other in the soft, sifted sand and mark our territory with a pitched tent littered with buckets, shovels and crab nets. Our trap, a testament to the bounty of the sea, would hide moored beneath the pier where dozens of sea creatures would seek shelter.
We often gathered our “keep”, ending with a full boil sopped in butter: sweet crab, fish or shrimp that we caught in nets we would cast until the sun set low on the western horizon. That was in the years when the view was only sand and sea, before flat wooden structures jutted between us and the magnificent light that signified the end of another day.
My grandfather began our legacy of the sea in a small cabin tucked within palms among the dunes. He often told us, ‘from a bicycle, a small cabin, an RV, a sitting on a tin can, the view is all the same as you stand face to face with the ocean and take in her majesty.”
The ocean, constantly moving, alive, breathing, reminds us with whirlpool-like majesty that we are alive. She represents a vast world that we may never understand. We merely inhabit a small spot on the edge of her horizontal door.
People who flock to the shores are often timid, some oblivious.
How many times have you walked alongside others to find a sand dollar, a unique shell that speaks to you, or catch a glimpse of a stingray soaring along the shoreline beneath the froth, or a dolphin leaping from the depths, to look around and find that no-one else saw it?
Some merely sit beside her, not taking notice to the wildness that lurks just beyond the breaks. Many flock bringing games with paddles, balls, to the shoreline in groups with coolers and picnics to rival a Bama tailgate sprawl in the sand along her edge.
Each day is different, with tides that shift and winds that either calm her or bring her temperament to life.
Some who come here are brave and undaunted. Those may venture in but they will never tame her. Here we are possible prey to creatures of the deep or currents that exhaust us into extinction.
I used to point and try to share glimpses of treasures, but now I conceal them and appreciate that they are all mine. The sea and I have a relationship. I live inland now, but the memories are ingrained in my soul, like the tiny pebbles that were once solid rock but have been weathered and softened into fine sands that caress my soul in the same way my father did when he took my hand and gave me my first fishing pole.
The Gulf Coast has survived wars with beasts named Allen and Harvey, Ivan and Danny. It molded against the wrath of Alicia and dances with Allison and Rita. And most recently Delta and Sally have churned along the Louisiana and Alabama coasts.
Still we re-build and make the pilgrimage back. More people flock to meet her, to try to remember a time when her wonders were new to them, only to discover that she is new again with each and every visit.
In the aftermath of cleanup, just a moment in her presence and we drop all that ails us and become immersed in the setting sun that splashes brilliant light onto the ever rocking palette that melts from sea into sky. There is nothing that can replace the treasures where sun, sand and city coastal towns pay tribute time and time again to whispers both silent and ferocious that come from the sea.
Whispers of the Sea
Allison Puccetti Adams