She Sells Seashells

Wednesday, July 19, 2006
I’ve always loved the sea. I’m a terrible swimmer. I have never been sailing. I fear drowning more than any other death. I can’t stand the taste of fish/shellfish but I used to love dulce (dried seaweed). I’ve spent most of my life spent on the vast oceans of wheat known as the Canadian prairies. I’ve always loved the sea.

The Sound of the Sea
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
THE sea awoke at midnight from its sleep,
And round the pebbly beaches far and wide
I heard the first wave of the rising tide
Rush onward with uninterrupted sweep;
A voice out of the silence of the deep,
A sound mysteriously multiplied
As of a cataract from the mountain's side,
Or roar of winds upon a wooded steep.
So comes to us at times, from the unknown
And inaccessible solitudes of being,
The rushing of the sea-tides of the soul;
And inspirations, that we deem our own,
Are some divine foreshadowing and foreseeing
Of things beyond our reason or control.

As I sit here using an old sarong as a blanket to protect my clothes from grass and dirt, staring out at the huge field of grass rippling like waves in the wind beside my office, thankful for this one lone tree and the minute amount of shade it offers me, I reflect upon my love of the water. For the past week, it seems as though it’s all I’ve thought about. I miss the ocean. I miss the salty taste of the air, the misty morning fog rolling in off the coast, the slap of the waves on the shore, even the stench of rotten fish and the giant rust spots on almost every car you see out east.

I’ve said for years that I’m an “Alberta Girl”. I’ve lived here most of my life, all but 8 years of my (oh god…) 33, and most of that time I’ve considered it my home. It’s not true. I love it here: prairies, mountains, lakes, deep dark forests…we’ve pretty much got it all. Almost all. One big thing is missing though. The ocean.

Both my brother and I were born on Prince Edward Island. You don’t need to know the town (it’s a small province…you could probably figure it out) but I will tell you it wasn’t Charlottetown. When I was three we moved out west (for the 1st time) and then back to New Brunswick five years later. We weren’t right on the ocean but we did live near the Miramichi River. Our paternal grandparents lived three hours away in Saint John (NOT St. Johns). That is the place I remember most of all. They lived at the top of a big hill and you could see much of the city from there. It was those weekend visits over the course of our four years in NB that cause those memories to stick to my heart like barnacles on ship’s hull (ok ok, not the best description but you get the idea!). There were trips to what can best be described as an “east coast farmer’s market” with my father and his father. Located near the Saint John docks where my grandfather worked his entire life (and where I met Princess Diana – yep, she talked to me and was wearing a cute pastel yellow suit dress and matching hat!), we went for one thing and one thing only – dulce (dried seaweed). Even after we’d moved back out west, my father would return from trips “down home” with a giant paper bag filled with this stuff. The only thing ever taken out of the ocean that I like (yes, it’s true, I don’t even like pearls…well…not that much…).

Sea Fever
John Masefield

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 gray mist on the sea's face, and a gray 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.


I’ve always loved the sea.

I love the Atlantic ocean. I’ve never actually been IN the Pacific but I don’t really like the Pacific coast. It’s too rocky. I suppose that might make me an ocean snob according to some. However, I’ve never really had the opportunity to wade into the Pacific. Regardless, it is not my home. My heart will always be in the Maritimes and its connection to the “old country” and its rich nautical history (England – my ancestral roots). To be honest, I’ve never ventured that far into the Atlantic either. I believe there were ferry trips when we were young but I don’t remember. As children we would go clam-digging and took trips to Peggy’s Cove.

My dreams, alas, have not yet been realized. What is my greatest wish you ask dear reader? A working vacation. No sillies! Not my usual type of work. I long to take a working “cruise” aboard a “tall ship”. My ship of choice is the Soren Larsen based in New Zealand. My trip would take me roundtrip from the land of the Kiwi’s to Easter Island and back again. The passengers are actually crew members – climbing the rigging, setting sails, swabbing the deck, avast mateys, and all that!

I become enamoured of many things and then suddenly without warning move onto the next “interesting” thing I’ve discovered. Not so with the sea. A few things that have remained constant in my fascination: sailing, exploration, pirates…

Perhaps it is the freedom, the quiet solitude, man against nature. Perhaps. Perhaps it’s just the motion of the ocean.


A Life on the Ocean Wave
Epes Sargent
A LIFE on the ocean wave,
A home on the rolling deep,
Where the scattered waters rave,
And the winds their revels keep!
Like an eagle caged, I pine
On this dull, unchanging shore:
Oh! give me the flashing brine,
The spray and the tempest's roar!
Once more on the deck I stand
Of my own swift-gliding craft:
Set sail! farewell to the land!
The gale follows fair abaft.
We shoot through the sparkling foam
Like an ocean-bird set free; --
Like the ocean-bird, our home
We'll find far out on the sea.
The land is no longer in view,
The clouds have begun to frown;
But with a stout vessel and crew,
We'll say, Let the storm come down!
And the song of our hearts shall be,
While the winds and the waters rave,
A home on the rolling sea!
A life on the ocean wave!

I’ve always loved the sea.

The book I’m currently reading is about the British Navy and its effects on the modern world. It’s a bit longer than others I’ve read recently so it will take me a bit longer to finish and get my “review” posted. Over the past few months, I’ve also added a number of biographies to my reading list including works on Magellan, Drake, Lord Nelson and John Dee. The next few months could be very interesting or extremely boring for some of you!

Pirate movies are probably one of my top 3 genres (along with Viking movies and something else I can’t think of at the moment!) to watch, provided they’re well done. Let’s face it, a LOT of pirate related movies out there are crap. Two of my all-time favourite pirate-themed movies are (please don’t laugh) Muppets Treasure Island and, of course, the Pirate Movie. Pirates of the Caribbean was surprisingly funny (I haven’t yet seen #2) and it is my favourite ride at Disneyland followed closely by Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. Not quite what you were expecting right? There are also some great movies/books about the golden age of sailing and England’s supremacy on the waters too (they don’t involve pirates per se).

C.S. Foresters Horatio Hornblower series which I have not yet read are supposedly very well done. They were also made into a number of film versions, my favourites were the ones aired on A&E starring Ioan Gruffudd. There are 7 or 8 in the series and don’t follow the books precisely from what I’ve been told (when do they ever?). Definitely worth the watch or read.

Patrick O’Brian wrote a 20 book series (again I haven’t yet read these) around Captain Jack Aubrey and his friend, Dr. Stephen Maturin. Two of these were reworked/combined into the script for Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World. A surprisingly well done and beautifully shot film despite my avoidance of most things involving Russell Crowe.

Another of my favourite sailing films (non pirate) was White Squall. It’s not a great film. Again, not a big fan of the star, Jeff Bridges but it involves a working tall ship school (!!! Where was this when I was a student…) and one wicked ass storm! Mother Nature can be a bitch!

I’m content to think its my family ties to the ocean and the Atlantic coast (through Capt Hallowell and my birthplace) that draws me to the water. I like to believe that salt water flows in my viens and fuels my heart and my passion. Whatever the reason, and as much as I’ve tried, its difficult to explain. All I know is that…

I’ve always loved the sea.

Oh and for the record…I just realized that the sarong I’m using is a deep sea green with white dolphins frolicking on it. Ah, the sea – it’s calling to me now. Can you hear it?

I’ve always lov…oh you get it by now

1 comments:

Krista said...

Good post. I have never been to the Canadian Atlantic (just off the coast of Florida), but I have been in the Pacific numerous times. My family has owned a boat since I was a month old. I've been on and in lakes and rivers all over North America. I have more trouble lasting a car ride without getting sick than I do on a boat on any condition of water. I long for the water, not necessarily the ocean, and perhaps not as fervently as you, but being in the water is where I feel.... free? Is that too cliché?

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