Tuesday, May 19, 2009

By the Sea...

I need a fix. I need to visit the seaside. I've often said that I have salt-water in my veins, instead of blood, as my ancestors were men who worked on the water in some capacity. The early family were whalers. Later men in the families were members of the Life Saving Service, and then, the US Coast Guard. Some were manhaden fishermen, and one was the Captain of a steam ferry. Although I love my new surroundings in the foothills of the Appalachians, one thing is missing....the ocean.

One of my favorite pastimes when I lived in East Hampton was to walk on the beaches. When I was a teenager, and April signaled that Spring had arrived, my friends and I would head to Main Beach where we'd spend countless hours sifting the soft white sand through our fingers as we discussed the most earth shattering news in our lives. Sometimes we'd meander near the edge of the water, toward the rock jetty, where we'd sit and enjoy the sun.

In later years, when it seemed the world was caving in on me, the ocean beach was my place of refuge. I'd find a quiet place, far from others who might be there, and plunk myself on a beach towel, lie back, and contemplate my current situation. The rhythmic, soft slap of the waves on the shore was comforting. No matter what storm raged in my heart or mind when I'd arrived, I always left with a peace and, sometimes, more clarity.

There were times when walking the sands that I'd feel that a great enlightenment had fallen upon me....as if I'd actually heard the voice of God speaking. One particular day, I had gone to the beach, overwhelmed and confused about what was happening in my life. I remember silently saying, "wow...there are so many grains of sand that make up this shore." I 'almost' heard God say, "Yes, and if everyone of them was one of your problems, I would know each of them and every detail of every one of them." Now, that opened my eyes!

I feel no particular need of comfort as I write this, but I do feel a bit homesick for the shore. When we make our way north to East Hampton in August, the beach is the first place I'll visit. I want to look out over it's vastness, to watch the gulls soar and dive. I want to smell the salt air, and to pick up the briney foam from the edge of the water. I want to hear the waves crash and watch the sands chase the water back to the sea. I'll walk until I'm tired of walking. Perhaps I'll get up very early one morning and watch the sun rise over the jetty.

I will fill my memory bank with the sights and sounds and smells, for who knows how long it will be before I will have a taste of the East Hampton beaches again?