I’m not really an ocean girl. I guess not in my perceived way. Oh, it’s nothing against the old girl. It’s just her power—her power–that makes this mostly sure human unsure about her. When I’m present with her I experience many things: the spray, salt, wind–byproducts of her way. As I stand, I absorb her majesty in her environment and the ecosystem she’s created which she supports every moment of her existence. But among the effects and perhaps predominantly, I feel the ground beneath me rumble when her swells meet their forces. It’s a surround-sound effect in her theater. The power that is her water startles and reverances me to silence. Every time. Historically, her MO with me has been intimidation. Still, you can learn things from her: things equal to that scale, strength, power.
As it happens, I recently visited the ocean. And unlike before, her essence has stayed with me, swirling in me like her tide pools. Like a salty tea bag, she’s been steeping in me.
My husband and I made all kinds of preparations for this trip and upon departure, bravely packed up our little kin. The journey had bumps and jerks as every such journey may, but like the pleasant children they are, they made it with as much merriment as one could expect from such aged ones. And when we arrived along her beaches quite late that night, sleepy from travel, they could hear her moving in the black but fell fast asleep instead.
It was early that first morning when we took them down to the shore for introductions. I think she knew they were coming because the morning was glowy with peeks of sunlight illuminating her mist, like she’d powdered her nose for them.
On the walk down, our baby girl was serene, taking in the scope, gathering. She is my daughter. My boy’s excitement was palpable, rising. He galloped down toward the beach, as he does, waiting for us to catch up.
Like the good ‘ol sport she is, she licked and lapped at my squealing boy while he felt her playfully steal the assurance he stood upon, giving wholly of herself. I watched him gayly lose his balance, stagger, recover, rejoice. He was learning about her and I think she liked it. He reveled in it. As a somewhat seasoned mother now, I should have just put him in his swim trunks first thing. No such meeting was ever going to be dry.
We played and exchanged pleasantries with the ocean, then later made our way back for breakfast. We saw her away, reposing.
We whiled away sunlit days, playing with her and all her byproducts. We even met some of her residents in sleepy sea turtles, lazy seals, and zig-zaggy crabs. And I watched her–always careful of my treasures that they should not be swallowed up or swept away. But they played safely and became used to an appropriate level of her strength.
One afternoon, my husband and son went into town to bicycle in tandem oceanside. On this day, my little rosebud needed a good nap, so I stayed with my dozing one while the boys went to romp.
As time passed, I found my place on the porch, beside the ocean, watching. I watched the ocean roll. In that quiet afternoon shade, she and I sat. I watched, she waved; like a sleepy blue ocean, she waved and I began to move: motion, swell, movement, gather, strength, rise, carry, peak, meet, give, spread, away, rebuild. Again.
It’s hard not to be moved by such a vast feature of Mother Nature. The expanse of water on a 180-degree horizon is incomprehensible. There’s absolutely no shortage of things to wonder at when absorbing the thing. Her visage can also change with any given variation of her elements; sunrise light, midday light, dusk—all of which gives an even bigger smorgasbord to consume. She smiles when things are sunny–she’s colorful. But she becomes monochromatic and focused as she broods something fierce when a storm comes. She truly is a wonder.
When my rosebud cooed her arise, I scooped up my precious treasure and took her down with me for a deeper meet-and-greet. This Woman had caught me in the shade.
With my daughter safely strapped to me, I crawled down a few jagged boulders toward a vantage point where we could visit safely. Although I had been to this place a few times in years past, I had never been down this particular path. It was new to me. I felt timid, but curious. My instincts must’ve been right because there was something beautifully terrible to wonder at here.
Adjacent to and beneath us was a deep, open-to-the-ocean cavern, covered only by a tall delicate arch that must have been as hard and as strong as titanium because she pounded mercilessly. (Enter that surround sound here.) The sound, the rumble, was shaking. A stone’s throw from these cliffs, you could see motion, swell, movement, gather, strength, rise, carry, peak, meet, give, spread, away, rebuild. Again.
As her tides pulled water from the cavern, swells brought it again. You could see the crash before you heard it. Surround sound. Honestly, the scene just thundered in sunlight that day. I anchored myself and my treasure to safety, and I opened to watch. We had come to her to watch. And did she ever put on a show.
As both my daughter and I wondered at this display I began to notice things about her, about the ocean. I began pointing things out to my rosebud, “Oh, look at that, sweetheart!…and that!…those rocks can survive the blows because…and can you see the way those waves gather strength there?…wow! Did you see how large that reaction was?!…look at how beautifully she moves in her way!”
I’ll bet she listened to me muse for an hour, captivated by what I was seeing, unafraid now, but still acutely respectful. Our ocean friend let us see this gorgeous cameo of her everyday strength. I thrilled at the scope of inspiration and the magnificent force she was offering and I guess, had always offered. I still can’t believe my babe lasted as long as she did, because we stayed together there on the rocks, all three of us learning about each other for the remains of the day.
The gifts, the inspirations of the old girl, this Woman made their way into my journal that night and into my pocket when we all waved goodbye upon departure: things in a pocket to keep and to give. And as we flew over her expanse on our own paths home, I felt I had made a friend of a force I once feared.