I've never lived near the sea. I've never even lived on a lake. So maybe if I was around the water all the time, I wouldn't be that affected by it. But I am.
I remember walking on the beach in Treasure Cay on the island of Abaco in the Bahamas many years back. The weather was spectacular and just a touch too warm. The sun was hot, and the sand beneath my toes was hard and soft, all at the same time. Sea grasses, so fine and feathery, swirled in the breeze nearby.
I laid down on my back, on the sand, under the sun. I squirmed and wriggled and let the sand move underneath my body, filling in the curves. I stretched my arms out and pressed the backs of my hands into the sand.
I was still and silent as I listened to the waves of the turquoise sea. A hush as the ocean sucked in its breath, a rush and gentle roar as it exhaled the waves onto the beach.
I felt the wisps of breeze floating off the water, carrying tiny droplets of salty mist with it. Those tendrils of cool, damp air curled around the hills and valleys of my body, and the tiny hairs on my arms felt like they were swirling in concert with the sea grasses. Always the hush and the rush and the roar. It never stopped, just like my heart never stopped beating, even when I concentrated on it.
As I laid there, letting all my tensions and anxieties seep into the sand beneath me, I felt clean, scoured by the salt water, rinsed by the wind. Clean of mind and spirit.
I left the sea. I knew I didn't belong there. It felt like one of the resting planets in A Wrinkle In Time where the travelers stopped to catch their breath, to warm their hearts. I belong in a land with towering trees and autumn leaves. I should walk across rolling hills and pass by frog ponds and playwoods.
Finding waves in a forest takes a little more concentration, but it is more than possible. It's inevitable if you are still and silent long enough. Slowly, you'll notice the tops of the trees waving in the wind, you'll hear the gentle blowing and rustling of that same sea-originating breeze, sometimes as loud as a train, but mostly soft like distant thunder. The air carries the scent of damp soil instead of salty ocean, and I am clarified by the earth as much as the sea.
I love reading (and listening to) Lilian Jackson Braun's Cat Who books. Light and cozy, funny and interesting, these mysteries are centered around Jim Qwilleran, a gruffly wonderful, former crime news writer from Down Below. In his current life, he's a billionaire who lives in Moose County, 400 miles north of everywhere. He keeps two cats, Koko and Yum Yum, and he writes biweekly columns for the local newspaper, The Moose County Something. One of his ploys for coming up with something to write about is to open up the dictionary and pick out a word, any word, and write a thousand words on the topic. I decided I'll do something like that every once in a while, and I'll call them Qwillerages, in honor of Qwill.
Update (5/1/08): This post won me a Perfect Post Award from my friend Liz from This Full House. I'm so excited and so honored. I cried when I read her kind words. It's amazing to me when people have emotional experiences from what I write. I mean, I have emotional experiences all the time when I'm reading, but I never before would put my own writing in that caliber of gut-wrenching, bullet-type experiences. Thank you!