Several years ago, I found this statement, attributed to Claude Monet*:
One could not be any closer to the sea than I am, on the pebbled beach itself, and the waves beat at the foot of the house. You know my passion for the sea…I’m mad about it!
Monet might have made this comment during his stay in Le Havre or on one of his journeys to Normandy’s coastal towns. I’ve not traveled to Normandy; I have lived near the ocean, and I, too, am mad about it!
The soft quiet waves coming in from low tide calm me. Feeling cool blue-green water as I wade at the water’s edge refreshes me. Watching the waves at high tide rise majestically and crack against the cliffs can scare me, until I sit still long enough to hear the rhythm.
The rhythm produces a symphony; I almost hear the drums and cymbals!
Last week I visited a friend near the Pacific Ocean. Standing near the buildings, I could see the waves, and seagulls. But I couldn’t smell the ocean air. What’s all this city smell if I’m so close to the ocean?
I walked toward the ocean, away from the buildings, the volleyball players, and the bikers. I dodged the sunbathers and kids building sandcastles. And I stopped to inhale deeply the salty energizing ocean air. I stood on the beach, oblivious to anyone, relaxing into the sea salt and ocean sounds.
The scene reminded me of my girlhood. I saw myself playing on the beach with my friends, building sandcastles. We gathered seaweed to hang as decorations on our sand structures. Then, having tired of the digging, we grabbed our shoe boxes and began our trek along the water’s edge to collect sea glass: colored glass pieces that the sea water had softened. We prided ourselves on how many boxes we could fill with these pastel opaque pieces.
And of course, the memory came up of swimming with my grandfather. We swam as far out as he felt I could—pretty far for a kid—and then swam back. No chatting; these swims were serious business for exercise and bonding!
The waves beat close to the beach house and gave me the gift of a life-long love for the sea!
*Apologies to my readers: I recorded this quote without a source.
Photos © Sherri Leah Henkin