The Sea is My Sister

When I think of home I think of the sea, of the waves breaking against the rocks and the frothing remainder meeting the land in a head-on rush to embrace it.  I remember the time as a child when I was caught on a sandbar between the incoming tide and a deepening pool of seawater between the beach and I, making the pool a barricade that I had nearly lost the will, resolve and confidence to overcome.  I was scared of the things that could be lurking in the water, of the large flat jellyfish waiting with their tentacles outstretched and the crabs poised with their claws open, ready to snap at a moment’s hesitation on my part.

My feet were lost to the cold depths at this point and I could feel only the rush of water around my torso even though the bright intense sun hovered overhead, warming each body laid out on the beach in front of me, as if to mock my situation and to suggest that life went on no matter what happened to me.  With my cries of worry and my arms waving feebly I was eventually noticed and saved by an older brother who guided me by hand across the treacherous water that had so frightened and paralysed me.

I’d wanted the safety of the land, of something solid under my feet where I could look to the sea unmolested by creatures of the deep.  I’d become trapped because I was not paying attention to what was happening around me as I was too busy splashing in the water, resting on the sandbar and admiring the view of family and friends relaxing by the sea.

The journey to get to that beach had felt like a holiday in itself, not a fifteen minute drive from my family home.  Packed in the car, almost as tightly as sardines, we would be wearing our swimming trunks clasping plastic spades and buckets.  Sometimes a store box, packed with frozen ice packs, accompanied us and was filled full of cool and refreshing snacks that we’d eat after an hour or two of heating up in the fresh salt tinged air.  The North Sea would sometimes bring winds that had rallied and rolled across the water coming from as far away as Holland or Denmark, maybe even Norway at a push, or so I had hoped.  It was naive to think such things perhaps but I liked the thought of being connected with the countries that we had visited on holidays in the past.

After our little swim and exploration of the sand the two families would trudge back to the parked car, heading through a sandy beach that morphed into a half-hearted shingle before giving way once more to sand dunes, where shark sticks of dried grass would prick your feet and legs as you hobbled over them.  It was customary to then shake our clothes free of sand, shaking our bodies in union as we did so, and then push on to purchase an ice cream in a cone and try to all fit into the car once again.  We’d had a day at the beach and the sun had tired us out, we needed food and drink to replenish the physical and mental energy that we had lost exploring for shells, oddly shaped stones, the dried out remains of crabs and the dodging of the rubbish that protruded through the sand itself.

I had thought about these summer family trips to the beach years later as I relaxed in the back garden of my university house during my undergraduate years of study.  I had gotten lucky with this house so close to the university campus and the local parade of shops – French doors, from my room, led directly into our fairly big back garden where, during the summer, autumn and spring seasons, my house mates and I could relax unencumbered by walls.  We read in the sun, drank beer and burnt meat during numerous BBQ’s, we solidified our relationships here too.  It was the ideal relaxation area late on a Friday after a week full of lectures, research and writing, where we could gather with a few of our friends and get a mild buzz from drinking beers in the evening sun.  Music accompanied those gatherings, music that hung in the cooling air and permeated our bodies to slowly drift off out into the night once we had taken our fill.

The grass under my feet and the fact that I often took off my T-shirt as I lay on the grass meant that I felt truly rooted to the ground and I could stare at the sky freely, my eyes wandering from cloud to cloud or bird to bird as they popped into view.  It felt good being partially clothed, to feel the heat of the sun on my own skin or the coldness of the northern breeze against my chest.  It was different from sitting in a cool lecture theatre absorbing the information like a sponge, making notes on what I wanted to research and to write about for the next essay or presentation that popped up regularly, like ships on the horizon that appear in a pleasingly timely manner.  I wouldn’t admit it to myself, but I enjoyed the peace and the quiet away from the others that came with being down in the back garden by myself.  It had a timeless quality, that it felt like I could be a student forever and never truly grow up.

But still, I missed the sea.  The waves that broke, that swelled, that seemed to bore ceaselessly on against the land that I called home.

Advertisements

Freeway

She sat in the docks at the nearby industrial town, all tied up, the crew silent and still.  The cold February waters lapped at her hull, silent save for the call of the coastal birds skimming the water, intermittently casting shadows on the metal hulk as the last rays of the afternoon sun pierced the grey clouds.  I can see the seamen now, walking on the deck or talking in the control room, all able and ready to roam the ocean’s waves.  ‘Where are you off to and where are you going?’ I want to shout across the divide that separates us, the land from the sea.  ‘What do you do in your spare time aboard and where do you hail from?’  Those are the questions that plague me, make me desperate to jump aboard myself and skip abroad.  That great seabird, the silent albatross, could be my constant companion, my faithful friend as we roamed seas new and old, cold and warm.

Crystal Sea

We are firing shots across the crystal sea, our voices echoing from hull to hull.  We cannot change our course or diffuse our views, we are each lost to the winding road of the same lonely heart.

I refuse to call it a day though, I just know that there is someone out there, someone waiting, someone wanting to hold my hand in hand as we walk by the sea of silent sorrows together.

Instead I call you here on this cold and grey Satuday night, the table dressed for two.  I want you here by my side, the music is on and the feast is ready.  I can sense that you are leaving before you ever truly came though, that the door is ajar and the cold wind is blowing.  It is plucking silently at my skin.  Instead and only in my dreams you are giving me head on Sunday’s unmade bed.

The candle has given its last flicker, the flame has withered and died.  The cold covers are calling me, it is time I laid out my body and took my rest.  My lips have kissed their last and my fingers are curled and grey.  My hair is shorter than it used to be and my knees don’t bend as they should.  I have given it all that I could, but that was never enough.  I knew that life was tough, that we’d drink fom the lows as well as the highs, but this I know is the end.

Today becomes tomorrow, and that yesterday was but a dream.

Slipstream Dreams

It’s true you know, the sea calls each wandering albatross home in the end.  They do not fly forever, sometimes they have to make landfall and other times they land in the sea and rest.  It is when they rest on the sea that the sea swallows them, lures them to duck their heads under the water with the gentle lapping of the waves and its promises of a fishy feast.  The albatross accept this as a part of their fate.  They are wise birds you know, elegant flyers, efficient users of the warm air currents.

I dreamt that I turned into an albatross once, that I took off from this scraggly patch of rock and fly out towards the sea.  I flew high, rarely beating my majestic wings.  I spied sailors from on high and followed in their slipstream.  They waved to me in turn and acknowledged my presence as a good sign.  They were often lonely in the southern sea, their sails furled out hoping to catch a push home.  In was in this way that I dreamt for many years.

Of course I cannot do that today.  Our attention is forever focused by other things.  The incessant beep of recognition from the outside world that clambers for our time and effort drains us of ourselves.  How I yearn to fly as an albatross again.  I will, no doubt, take my final rest in my later years, which are soon to become my present years.  Again I have no doubt that I shall spread my wings once more and scale the dizzy heights above the southern sea, that I will join my leviathan brethren and explore the ocean anew.  Remember though that the sea can swallow even us.

CNV00024

Photograph taken by author with a Pentax s1a camera.

 

Captured Once, Captured Twice

Once again I’ve recently been putting some of the photographs I’ve taken with my old Pentax S1a film camera into frames, and I think a few of them work rather well.  This is one of my friends, caught we as we were out taking photographs one day around town.  I have to say that, even though I used cheap colour film, I love the way that this photograph has turned out.  There is something in the crispness and texture of film photographs that I just cannot seem to see or feel in examples of digital photography.  Of course the flip side of this is the fact that I used a cheap digital camera to take a picture of the photograph in the frame to enable me to post it here!

The Pentax S1a was made in the early 1960’s and still works like a dream, no batteries needed.  The digital camera?  Broke tonight after only a few years use.  Typical right?

A photograph of my friend taking a photography.  I think with this frame, a nice deep black frame, it really helps to bring the little scene out of it self, as fixed on a wall or a shelf the thick frame gives it a nice depth.  Taken with my Pentax S1a on colour film, if used elsewhere please credit.

A photograph of my friend taking a photography.  I think that with this frame, a deep black frame, it really helps to bring the little scene out of it self, as fixed on a wall or a shelf the thick frame gives the photograph a nice depth.  Taken with my Pentax S1a on colour film, if used elsewhere please credit.

Here is another quick photograph of the sea, how I love the sea.  Again I have put it into a cheap frame but I think the white/cream highlights the colours within the photograph itself.  Also this one has turned out much better than expected.  I expected it to be slightly scuzzy and not really crisp or clear at all, but it has pleasantly surprised me.

Here you go:

How my heart longs to be near the sea, within the sea and deep under the sea.  The fresh salty air is a balm to the roughest of days and always ensures a good nights sleep.  You know that the sea will break you down until you cannot be broken any more, it will not lie to you or try to comfort you.  it is nature at her harshest, at her most beautiful.  Taken by me with a S1a Pentax camera with colour film, if used elsewhere please credit.

How my heart longs to be near the sea, within the sea and deep under the sea.  The fresh salty air is a balm to the roughest of days and always ensures a good nights sleep.  You know that the sea will break you down until you cannot be broken any more, it will not lie to you or try to comfort you.  It is nature at her harshest, at her most beautiful. Taken by me with a S1a Pentax camera with colour film, if used elsewhere please credit.

I’ve also got a few more photographs in frames but as I said the camera has broken so I unfortunately cannot upload them here at the moment.  I also think it is worth putting your own photographs in frames as it is a nice personal touch and evokes happy memories, and it makes you remember that being creative and spontaneous can lead to some lovely pieces of home art.

Dispatches From The Coast: A Cold Morning Kiss

The water lapped over my feet as I sat in the shallow surf, the sand acting as a welcoming cold blanket to hold the heavy weight of my sodden body.  I was focused on watching the summer sun shimmer over the watery horizon, ascending to spend a day in the big blue eternal.

I happened to be only a stone’s throw from the rest of the gang back behind me, who were content rummaging in the post-apocalyptic coliseum-like landscape of an old concrete water tank.  It was half demolished, half drained and half open to the elements but it still contained a small pool of still water, resting peacefully in the centre.  It provided ample dry space to camp in overnight as we burnt wooden flotsam and jetsam to keep warm.  We would watch entranced as the flames licked dry the wood, as they curled high into the air, as pieces of free floating ember drifted out over the water.   Occasionally the concrete couldn’t handle the heat and a bit of rock or ‘crete would crack and shoot off like an errant lost firework.  It was peaceful and it was beautiful.

We were cut off from the rest of the town by a train hill, had to enter this ruined landscape by a long concrete tunnel bored right through.  It was a visual rite of passage as we lugged our crates of beer through it and pocketed the bags of mary for later use, all the while watching out for puddles or malformed bricks to trip us up.

Only by sitting in the shell of the constructed past could we engage with our present, stars twinkling in their heavenly domain above, resplendent in their peaceful beauty.  I am pretty sure that anyone who saw us would not think the same, of our matted hair and corduroy.  Throwbacks to the 90’s.  We completed the scene with empty cans and deep laughs, of guitars and harmonicas played deep into the night.

They say now that the ground is leveled, cleaned and scraped back.  Houses to be built by their dozen, a luxurious bolt hole for the wealthy.  The landscape of a decomposing industrial wasteland has been deconstructed and reconfigured to fit the needs of an expanding people.  Water tanks turned inside out and re-shod with wood and tiles, distorted bricks re-cast for the foundations.  The sofas we used to burn now litter the beach in their full splendor.

But still, when the wind blows right, the scent of mary and the sea can still be smelt, a reminder of a time long past.

The Swimmers Paradise

You may have gathered from a previous post that I love swimming (or even just floating) in bodies of water, in both seas and lakes and man-made pools; that I love the feeling of being immersed so completely that you forget what it is like being tied to the land for life.  I am a lucky person as I live near the sea but, unfortunately, I haven’t swam in it for nearly 8 months now.  I remember the last time as if it were yesterday: the last rays of a summer sun that shimmered on the golden empty sands, of the waves that towered over my friend and me, those same waves that crashed onto our bodies and carried us along on the surf towards the shore, of being able to stare into the empty sky from a free floating position further out at sea, away from the swells and broils of the surf.  It was a fantastic experience and one well worth the arduous mini-trek down to the front.  I cannot wait until I am in the sea again, ensconced in that liquid love of two parts hydrogen covalently bonding with one part oxygen, and I hope against hope that it will be soon.

I see ships coming into the hometown port all the time, the cable layers and dredgers, along with the bigger container ships and oil tankers lining up to enter the bigger port that lies to the south of my town.  Often I spy the dredgers that go between the two, keeping the sea lanes free of silt.  I’d love to hop on an ocean going vessel again, to be taken away to see the world from the vantage point of a porthole.  Although the ships rarely spend long at port these days, the days of having wild nights in port cities long gone having been shunted aside by the necessity of the commercial world of shipping, I’d still get to float on the beautiful body of water that surrounds our ground bound forms.  I dream every night of being a part of a crew that rides the waves of the ocean, drifting between continents and between lives, not walking but gliding gracefully through the water.

CNV00041

A sea shot of a dredging ship, altered with some basic colour mixing via media player. Taken by me with a Pentax S1a on cheap colour film, please use CC if reproduced.