Enjoy life now... it has an expiration date.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Newspaper column for April 2009

The Cure for Sea Fever

Sea-Fever by 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 a quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over.

I had a nagging case of sea fever; possibly caused by the confinement of winter months, or perhaps by the siren song of spring that beckoned me to like a child begging an adult to "come and see what I made". And so, ignoring the disapproval of chores that needed to be done, errands that waited to be run and a dozen other "should-do’s" that snatched greedily at my time, I turned a deaf ear and listened instead to the call of the sea.

A light picnic was packed to suffice as an evening meal and mid-afternoon the hubby and I took off for the beach. It was the right decision. A lovely spring day awaited us with storybook blue skies and scudding white clouds. On the ride down, I turned my head from side to side, looking, unwilling to miss anything. Dogwoods, tulip trees, early azaleas, late narcissus and clusters of little wildflowers all bloomed exuberantly and I silently applauded their show.

Arriving at the beach, we climbed steps that rose over a dune, and at the top, stood still. After winter's pale stillness, there’s magic in that first glance at the lilting sea, resplendent in myriad shades of blue and green and capped with white at the shoreline. I took a deep, slow breath, reveling in the salty air and the sound of the sea. My eyes followed the waves that curled, crested and then, relaxed, rolled gently onto the beach. Time fell away, the "should-do’s" ceased to exist, and a peaceful feeling of belonging seeped in.

There were few beach-goers this early in April. I was glad. Glad to listen only to the lulling waves and cries of the gulls. Life at the shore is reduced to simpler elements, and simpler felt good, felt lighter. Like losing ten pounds; not in body, but in spirit.

I had brought a heavy jacket, expecting a cold and cutting wind. But the day was benevolent and I was comfortable wearing jeans and a shirt. Spring’s gentle sun dropped sparkling highlights on the waves and shimmered on the wet sand. Along the tideline the sand was studded with shells; mostly broken, but still beautiful in their variety and color. Wet, they glistened, jewels against a velvet cloth, and I picked up the gems I thought beautiful and dropped them safely into a bag. A good subject for a painting, perhaps.

The hubby loves to feed the sea gulls, so we came prepared with a whole loaf of bread. After the quiet months of winter the gulls were cautious. As the season wore on they would once again accustom themselves to the beach crowds that annually invade their realm. But at the moment they were skittish. The small bread chunks thrown out to them rolled to a standstill where they lay untouched as the gulls, tempted, stared, started forward, then thought better of it and stepped back. So the hubby threw the bread farther out and finally the boldest among them claimed his prize. Then another stepped forward, and another, until soon we were surrounded by a gaggle of gulls all vying for the morsels flying across the sand. They were comical, reminding me of children squabbling and scuffling for the best piece of candy. When one grabbed a piece of bread, another one close by would squawk loudly in protest. Sometimes two or three gulls dived after the same bit of bread and when one caught it, the unsuccessful gulls set off a clamorous chorus of disgruntled and envious complaining. We spent several minutes watching and enjoying the gulls while they enjoyed the food. Eventually, the bread was gone and we expected them to leave immediately. Instead they stood around, looking at us expectantly as if to say, "We’re waiting". They were quiet now, and their fears allayed by the food, had come within a few feet of us. They stood regarding us with an open and patient gaze. We started walking back to the steps over the dune and for a few feet we had company. Then, realizing that meal time was over, one by one the gulls left, circling out over the sea in search of more food.

It was a good evening. There was time to be quiet, time to talk, time to rest. We wondered why we didn’t do this more often. There wasn’t any reason not to. It didn’t require a week, or even a whole day. Just a couple of hours at the beach had gone a long way to curing sea fever. The wind and waves had done their work - as I knew they would. And that night I slept the quiet sleep with the sweet dreams of those who go down to the seas.


Rosie said...

Oh, Teresa, I've really enjoyed reading this article - you painted a wonderful picture with your words - I was there with you on the beach, collecting pebbles, feeding the gulls - I love your descriptions of them. I'm so glad you had a lovely, calm and peaceful time at the beach - there is nothing like the cool air, the sound of the tide and the sheer joy of being near the sea to calm and soothe the spirits - thankyou:)

Ann said...

Oh how I envy you being just a short drive from the beach! Your description is lovely and I felt for a short time I was there with you. Thanks :)

Jan said...

That is one of my favorite poems and I used to be just wild about sailboats and the ocean. I'm still crazy about the ocean but somehow sailboats are not my "thing" any more.

Your word painting of your beach day is just beautiful. I can see it all clearly in my mind's eye and that, to me, is the mark of a good writer!

Artist Unplugged said...

What a picture you created with your writing....sounds like an amazing day! Your little oil painting is wonderful.

Teresa said...

Thank you Rosie, Ann, Jan and Artist Unplugged!

Ann: True that it's nice being able to drive to the beach for a couple of hours... but you have no idea how much I envy you living in the Blue Ridge Mountains! Sigh... my dream place to live!

Laure Ferlita said...

Thank you for taking me to the beach - I need to go wash the salt from my face now!

What a beautiful gift you have with words, an added dimension to your art. Truly exceptional.

Megha Chhatbar said...

Hey Teresa, your words are so lively..they took me there..:) Nicely weaved!

Cathyann said...

Oh, Teresa,what a gift you gave me just now. You write beautifully! I could paint many pictures from this!!! The poem too was a delight. I love the ocean. It does restore us so. And rivers.
Do not overlook what is closest to you however...like that yard. All kinds of delight to be found at home.:-))Peace.

Teresa said...

Thank you Laure, Megha and Cathyann for your kind words... so very much appreciated!

Sanghi said...

that's a informative article..!Back from a long break, have posted do check it out :)

Michelle Burnett said...

I agree with Rosie, "you paint a wonderful picture with your words". This was a lovely read. Thank you for sharing!

hedda said...

Hi Theresa,
I just stopped by from Ellie's.
Your poem reminded me of one by e.e.cummings, entitled.... maggy and milly and molly and may. A classmate recited this poem in class so many years ago, and it has stayed with me. Refreshing!

Teresa said...

Hello Hedda,

I wasn't familiar with the ee cummings poem you referred to... so I found it on the 'net and it's wonderful! I loved it. Thanks for stopping by and for sharing a great poem.

Gary Keimig said...

very nice blog. Love your writing and outlook on life.
I too just tried the water oil you were refering to. I have only started my first painting with them and would like to include one of the fast driers with them to really determine what I think about them. Would like to hear as time goes by what you think

Lynne said...

We're miles from the beach here. In the Uk we were just minutes away, sigh.
Loved your visit though.

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