The soft sounds of the sea
Wednesday, April 05, 2017 1:00 AM
Twilight is a brief period of time that separates night from day. There is also another in between area we regularly encounter and it separates our awake world from our night time sleep realm. There, as I lay in my bed waiting for slumber to come, sometimes I hear the waves again. The soft sounds of the sea come back to me.
I well recall my seafaring days. I can easily picture rocking with the surging swell as our boat pulls into the harbor. I smell the salt sea air and hear the seagulls cry. I hear the waves crash against the shore as the marine mist rolls in turning the world grey. A damp fishy smell lingers around the dock. Heavy wooden planks on the pier bang against the hull of our boat as we lash her safe and secure to dry land.
Home safe from the sea we are with our precious catch. Our bounty snatched from the stormy sea will sustain us for a while. Then, in clear weather, we'll venture out to sea once more.
All I have to do is picture it in my mind and it all comes back to me. But these days I'm far away from the rolling sea and the seagull's cry. Far inland, high and dry on the high desert I am. It pretty well suits me here in my old age with the absence of humidity. I do not sweat as I used to. I don't have to contend with moisture, mold and rainy weather. My lungs and sinuses are dry and free of congestion. But sometimes I miss the sounds and smell of the sea.
The wide blue ocean encompasses some seventy five percent of our planet. For millennia it has beckoned and called to us. Vikings, pirates, adventurers and explorers have roamed it's calm and stormy waters. Even from a distance as you approach, you feel it's pull. It seems to say "Venture into my world if you dare. Come. Great thrills and adventure await you, as well as a watery grave".
You hear a far off fog horn in the night. Days run into weeks without sight of land. You question your navigational skills; your ability to pinpoint position. Somewhat like a dragon trying to engulf you with it's flame, the ocean reaches out with it's foamy salt water wave to embrace and pull you down to Davy Jones'es locker.
Man has made great strides and advancements on land. Cities, highways, industry and farmlands have tamed the wilderness. But man has made no mark or advancement against the sea, except perhaps in polluting and robbing it of it's fisheries.
Even here, thousands of feet above sea level, all was once water. They say that all this area was once a giant in-land lake. You can see in places where the flat sandy landscape looks very much like a beach. But now it's all bone dry land as far as the eye can see.
You will find no highway or road signs out on the ocean blue. No rest stops, motor inns or restaurants will greet you. Break down or run out of fuel; no Triple A or Highway Patrol will come to your rescue. After your long lonely wait the only ones to show up will be the sharks.
Its a formidable environment for sure. Danger, sea sickness and loneliness plague you at first. But gradually you get a feel for it. The sun, wind and mist in your face don't seem all that bad. You get used to the sway and up and down motion as you walk the deck. It seems to rekindle ancient memories with sea shanties and thrilling stories of life at sea.
But that's all long ago and far away for me now. A different place and time it was. Its tucked away in the memories of my youth.
There are not many seafarers in our world today. Also not many are aspiring to join them. Navy life for some young fellows has exposed them to this adventures life for a while. If you have never experienced life on the high seas then you owe it to yourself at least once. You can, after all, save up and take a sea cruise. Its the modern luxurious version of sailing.
So hoist anchor, batten down the hatches and smooth sailing mate!
Dan O'Connor can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org