Memories of the Sea
I grew up in Minnesota, the “Land of 10,000 Lakes,” so I’m used to bodies of water. The biggest lake in Minnesota that I’ve ever seen is Mille Lacs Lake, which is Minnesota’s second largest lake. It’s a huge lake, spanning 132,000 surface acres or slightly more than 200 square miles, with maximum depths which barely exceed 40 feet, while much of the main lake falls into the 20 to 38 foot depth ranges. When you stand on the shore of Mille Lacs Lake, you cannot see across the lake to the other shore; that is how huge this lake is. I remember the first time when I saw this lake. I must have been eight or nine years old, and I was awestruck by the enormity of the lake, and the fact that I couldn’t see across to the other side. I guess this was the closest thing I came to the sea while growing up.
As I was growing up, the sea I knew was connected with history. I especially remember the little ditty: “Columbus sailed the ocean blue in fourteen hundred and ninety-two.” How many of us learned that tune when we learned about Columbus and his discovery of America? Of course now we know that it was probably the Vikings who did this, but nevertheless, these are my childhood memories. History records the pilgrims crossing the Atlantic Ocean in the Mayflower in search of religious freedom. Francis Scott Key wrote “The Star Spangled Banner,” America’s national anthem, in 1814, after witnessing the bombardment of Fort McHenry by the British Royal Navy ships in Chesapeake Bay during the Battle of Fort McHenry in the War of 1812. We also could never forget the tragedy of the sinking of the R.M.S.Titanic on April 5, 1912, after it struck an iceberg in the Atlantic Ocean, resulting in the fatalities of 1,503 people. Let us not forget the wars which were fought on the seas, and the lives which were lost and buried at sea; not to mention the tsunamis which resulted in great catastrophes and deaths in the recent past. Then there are the entertaining tales of fantasy on the sea with swashbuckling pirates, buried treasure, and mermaids. All of these are the closest I came to the sea as I was growing up.
About eleven years later, we took an ocean cruise for our twenty-fifth wedding anniversary. First we flew to California, which is where we would board the ship for our cruise. I’ll never forget our trip to Venice Beach and how we walked along the shore of the Pacific Ocean at sunset, feeling the warm sand between our toes. Then we set sail for Mexico on our Royal Caribbean luxury liner, the Rhapsody of the Seas. Sailing on the ocean was new, and now we experienced the gentle rocking and swaying motion as the ship rode the waves. We had beautiful weather, and the trip was smooth. We saw dolphins and even spotted two whales, which was a real treat. When we reached Cabo San Lucas, we disembarked for a trip to the beach. After sailing in a glass-bottom boat, seeing beautiful fish of colors and sizes we had never before laid our eyes upon, we decided to picnic at the beach, which was practically deserted at the time. I have never seen water so blue nor so pristine. It was a warm day, and so we ventured out into the waves. It was the first time I ever swam in the ocean (well, actually I waded). I remember thinking how fortunate we were to be on this trip to celebrate twenty-five years of marriage. The sea from this trip will always be remembered because of the sentiments that twenty-five years of marriage added to it.
Then a few years later, unexpectedly, we took a trip to Disneyworld in Florida. My husband’s sister won this trip for four people and asked my husband if we would like to have the trip. He bought the entire trip from her for half-price. I never thought we’d go to Disneyworld, although it was a place where the kids always wanted to go, and it seemed as though this was trip was meant to be for us since it practically just fell into our laps. Our son, who was in college at the time, didn’t want to take time off from his studies, although we offered to buy another ticket so that all five of us could go together. So in the end my husband and I and our two daughters traveled to Disneyworld, and I missed our son the entire time we were there. We did spend most of the trip at the Disneyworld Parks; however, our daughters had never seen the ocean. Therefore, on one day we decided to visit the Kennedy Space Center on Cape Canaveral along with the Atlantic Ocean. It was a very windy day as we walked down to the beach from the parking lot. The girls wanted to swim in the ocean, but my husband and I opted to sit on the beach and observe. As we watched our girls play in the waves just off the shore, a lump formed in my throat. My heart was warmed knowing that finally our daughters were on their dream trip to Disneyworld, a trip they would always remember, and finally they could say they had seen the ocean and swam in it. The sea from this trip brought me joy because it granted our daughters a longed-for wish. The following is a poem which I wrote on August 4, 2010. When I wrote it, I was remembering our two daughters when we were at the ocean.
Come with me; we’ll play by the sea,
Come see how happy we will be,
Playing by the ocean so blue,
Having fun as little girls do,
It will be grand — just you and me.
Our young hearts will be filled with glee,
Come run barefoot and feel so free,
All my secrets I will tell you,
Come with me . . . . .
The sea is fine, you will agree,
Even though it may be windy,
We will find such a lovely view,
And we will build sand castles, too.
We will find fun, I guarantee,
Come with me . . . . .
- thoughts from the shore (squeky.wordpress.com)