Saturday, December 16, 2017

Ocean Guy

After having it detailed today, I was gassing up the car in Ormand Beach when a guy passed by saying, "I don't know...but I'm guessing from the looks of you that you're an Ocean Guy." I couldn't have been more pleased!  His approbation was on the order of the First Water!  "Well, I suppose I am!", I replied. My confession was hesitant because of course I am a hopeless landlubber with no maritime credentials whatsoever (though I didn't disabuse the commentator of his fanciful notion).  Besides even without the littoral authenticity anyone who knows me knows that the Ocean is in my blood.  I love everything about the frothing green Ocean including all the nautical paraphernalia, history, produce and geography associated with it - sailing yachts and Clippers, Ship's Bells and barometers, yardarms and boating knots, buoys and wooden fishing bobs, compasses and telescopes, piers and jetties, rocky shores and sandy beaches, sand dunes, boardwalks, the huge horizon, Herman Melville, fish and jellyfish, sand dollars, sea shells and seaweed, lighthouses and saltboxes, you name it!

Put me within sight of an Ocean and I am instantly at ease! The vast space absorbs me entirely!  It is an admission of dreams and wistful fantasy, of freedom and escape, of beauty and release. I am taken to the other side of the world, to the very brink of discovery and bliss. I am certain that my laborious student days at law school in Halifax, Nova Scotia were bearable because of the nearby Atlantic Ocean.  I could always sense its salty air and relish the crystal blue skies.  To know that I could in a moment walk alongside the raging sea was the key to my personal evaporation! Sometimes before going to the law library on a Saturday morning we'd drive to Lawrencetown and sit on the rocky escarpment, noiselessly staring out to sea.

It was forever my hope and dream to have a place by the sea. Like most fanciful aspirations it never came true, at least not precisely. The reality is two-fold; one, Canadian winters on either the east or west coast can be miserable; and two, we're only allowed to linger in the United States of America for six months at a time in any one calendar year (more or less). Putting aside the detail of bankrolling the purchase of coastal real estate, we have opted instead to dawdle upon the barrier islands of the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico in rented premises.  It appears that the fortuity of the evolution is in our favour if for no other reason than to accommodate our nomadic behaviour. We began the enterprise on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. Interspersed in that adventure were targeted jaunts to other nearby barrier islands, Kiawah Island, Jekyll Island, Tybee Island, St. Simons Island and Amelia Island.  We subsequently sought to broaden our base to north-eastern Florida, St. Augustine and Jacksonville Beach, but we ended further south on Daytona Beach Shores.  Most recently we have been beguiled by the Gulf of Mexico, specifically Longboat Key.  Though the romantic element of the sea is somewhat diminished in these largely suburban areas, I at least have the distinction of being able to bicycle upon the face of beach at will every day and to see it upon awakening.

The charm of our vernacular is in its detail, the off-beat places we've come to know and frequent.  Sometimes the opportunity is serendipitous.  More often though it is our local acquaintances which have propelled us in the right direction (ensuring we see more than the notorious tourist attractions only). That is naturally a product of being an interloper as opposed to a mere tourist.

I wouldn't trade the opportunity for a fortune in gold. Every morning without exception is a revelation of unprecedented luck. The knowledge that the sun will rise every day is more than axiomatic, it is an endowment. Though admittedly I loiter over my morning coffee, fruit and protein, it is all I can do to keep myself from going to the beach at every chance. Never do I tire of the repeated views of the Ocean and its beachfront constructs.

Interestingly for me my connection with the Ocean is akin to what I have mockingly said from time to time is my "literary license" when distorting the precise truth of my accounts.  My seafaring pleasure is vicarious at best yet I am completely drawn in. So if you were to ask, yes, I am an Ocean Guy!

Sea Fever

I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by;
And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea’s face, and a grey dawn breaking.
I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied; 
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.
I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull’s way and the whale’s way where the wind’s like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over.

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