Monday, July 28, 2008

Sunday Passage

July 28, 2008, Sunday Passage

Dear Family and Friends,

I must go down to the seas again,
To the lonely sea and 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 have been taking to the sea early in the morning. I don’t need an alarm clock as I am on the 5:00 a.m. automatic pilot…wide awake and ready for the day. I rise and put old kettle on for tea in the early darkness. While I wait for it to boil, I toss on my old tee shirt and shorts, tie back my hair and put my sunglasses in my pocket. When the water boils, I make my tea adorned with cream and sugar, and I am ready.

I open the front door of the cottage and dawn is close, but still darkness prevails. The early morning song of our nesting cardinals breaks the silence and I know that I have time to get to the beach before the sun arrives.

The sound of the water…of waves on sand and current upon current upon current greets me well before I reach the sand. When I reach the beach the sand is cool beneath my feet after a night of pale moonlight. I look for shadows on the beach…couples bringing chairs to watch the glory of morning or stray beachcombers, but on this day I am alone. There is not a single soul as far as I can look in either direction. I am in awe of this holy moment and my breath is caught in my throat.

I head down to the water and begin my walk where sea meets land, one foot in each dimension. The deep gray of late dawn commingles with pale shards of crimson and pink. I walk with a clear head and with no destination in mind…just walking.

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 pass the turtle nesting areas, some of which I helped locate and enclose in these same early morning walks. On this day I think the sun will stay hidden until mid day as I can now see the heavy clouds in the East. I am not disappointed as I am enjoying the moment. I turn to head back as the early morning begins to unfold all that was hidden in the darkness. The ghost crabs dart and disappear before I can reach them, their bulging eyes peering at me, a foreigner in their world.

On the sand dunes, the ripening sea oats sway in the gentle breeze that has now picked up. I now see the form of a couple walking towards me, still so far in the distance that our voices are lost would be lost in the wind. I pick up a shell, a lady’s slipper that appears to be perfect, but then again I think all the shells are perfect. I slip it into my pocket and turn to look behind me. I stop. I stare. I lose all conscious thoughts. For there before me is the sun…against the dark morning clouds. It is a scarlet, blood red perfect sphere. In all my life I have never seen such a sunrise. I want to weep or sing or dance, but instead I sit on the damp sand to watch.

As the day brightens I look back out to sea and watch pods of dancing dolphins in front of me. They frolic and play without a notice to this spectacular sunrise, or do they notice? Finally, I sigh, stand up and continue on my walk. The couple that was so far away now approaches me. We talk about the sunrise. “Have you ever…?” I say. They shake their heads. They are tourists and are just starting their vacation. They continue down the beach holding hands. I meet a jogger, we also talk. How can we not?

By the time I get back to my exit, the sun is high, the red is gone, but for the memory and there are a few other folks emerging from small wind blown cottages. It will be a hot day and a good beach day, but I have had my beach day already.

I pick up my cup where I left it hidden in the dunes and go home to my waking village of Ocracoke. The garden gate creaks as I open it, and my day begins.

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.

John Masefield

Love to all,
Lou Ann

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