Except for the 11 years I lived inland in Labrador, I have spent my life within eyeshot of the sea. My ancestors crossed the Atlantic ocean to come to this small Scotland, a new chance to breathe air free from religious prosecution. Some of them were buried at sea in that 1750 crossing. The others came to small settlements on the edges of the ocean where they farmed and fished for food. The sea was also the only way to get around Nova Scotia; the first roads were waterways.
Without the sea and the fish and the means of trade and travel it supplied, we could never have survived. The ocean and all it contained and the land that edged it nourished us and allowed us to grow here. We were barnacles on these rocks.
You could say that the ocean is in my blood. I grew up in its fogs and winds; sea air and the smell of low tides were as familiar as the lilacs in my great grandmother's yard as I passed by on the way to school. Family picnics to the shore were regular rituals of summer, where the sea air mixed with and seasoned the egg salad and cucumber sandwiches. Sometimes we camped for a long weekend at a far away beach, we kids exploring the tide pools in the rocks and playing in the sand as naturally as the adults collected seawater for lobster boils, or to put out campfires.
There were angels in the sand, collections of small shells and pebbles and feathers of fascinating textures and colours painted by the salts and minerals of the waters and left as jewels on the shore. I still collect such treasures on beach walks, though am careful what I take these days.
Even in Japan, I lived on a small island where the sea was visible, if strictly contained in concrete along most of the shoreline. Three days a week I travelled on a secondary train along the coast to my juku about 45 minutes away. I remember choosing to sit on the side of the train nearest the water most days, and whether it was a good day or a bad day, my heart and spirit lifted at the sight of the emerald waters of the Seto-o-naikai at the point where the train joined the ocean front. It was a precious moment of communion and reminded me of home.
I now live beside the ocean, right on the water, in my mother's house. We have incredible views from windows on two sides, and whether the tide is coming or going, the day is clouded or sunny, the moon is a shining path on the water, or soft fogs drape their coverlet over us, we know the gift we have.
It is an insuperable gift of spirit and beauty that transcends the mundane and makes even our simple life rich.
The creatures of the ocean, which include us after all, must be forever grateful for the home the planet has provided.
Please read more stories of the sea (Pacific Ocean) at the wonderful David Suzuki Foundation website here.