Saturday, August 14, 2010

August 14: The Call of the Sea

It's rather ironic that as I sit on my back porch about to write a post about waking up this morning to the sound of an osprey chirping overhead, I can hear the cheesy carnival-esque music of an ice cream truck making its slow pass through our neighborhood. There's something about ice cream trucks (and clowns, for that matter) that creeps me out, although I'm sure to children with more innocent minds the music is as saliva-inducing as Pavlov's bell was to his dog.

When I awoke on yet another perfect summer morning today and heard the osprey before I even got out of bed, I thought to myself that I don't think I could live where I wouldn't hear that, or at the very least, the sound of gulls. That reminded me of something in Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings books, when Legolas, a prince of the wood elves, is told that if he hears the gulls, he'll never return to his forest realm. I'm not sure if that was meant to be a straightforward prophecy--for he does hear gulls when he reaches the sea and ends up spending his life traveling Middle Earth with his dwarf companion--or if there was something more implied.

Personally, having grown up in midcoast Maine, I think there was more to it. I wouldn't want to live for any amount of time away from the ocean and the cries of the gulls and ospreys. I like to imagine that once Legolas saw the sea, its lure was inescapable, so that he could never be satisfied with life in Mirkwood Forest again. Of course, coming from a place called Mirkwood, it seems like the attractions of  the sea would be obvious--sunlight on waves, the expanse of the open water, sea birds twinkling overhead... I guess what I love best about this place that is my home is the perfect combination of waterfront and woods--I can wake to ospreys as well as to a cardinal's whistle and the rustle of wind in the leaves. I can hike for several hours on mountain trails shaded by big old trees and be rewarded at the top with an ocean view: the best of both worlds.

A few minutes ago, my husband (in a nearby lawn chair) told me that he could smell the sea. He too grew up near the ocean and understands how fortunate we are to be able to sit beneath an ash tree alongside the river, breathing in salt air--and also, how inevitable, as if we could bear to be anywhere else.

With an osprey's voice
the sea wakes us up, beckons,
its blue doors open.

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