The Ocean

We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea, whether it is to sail or to watch – we are going back from whence we came.
John F. Kennedy

Over half of the population of the U.S. lives within 50 miles of the coast, as does about 44 percent of the world’s population.

Is that because our Paleozoic amphibian ancestors crawled out of the swamp onto dry land and we have tended to stay close to shore ever since?  That explanation would probably be too simple.

Maybe it’s because humans have tended to settle along trade routes.  That would make sense.

We also know that ecosystems are most robust at “edges.”  There is a lot of life where rivers, streams, ponds, lakes, and oceans meet dry land. So maybe we tend to be near the water because that’s just a natural place for living organisms to be.

But maybe we tend to settle near shorelines just because we like being on the coast.  That seems as good a reason as any to me.

Of course not all civilizations and societies have a love for the sea. The ancient Hebrews, for example, who were hill-dwellers and they feared the sea–perhaps because their traditional enemies were sea-faring coast dwellers.  In Biblical imagery the sea is a foreboding and dangerous place.  On the “new earth” imagined in Revelation, there is no sea.  No beaches in heaven?  That might not sound heavenly to the beach-lovers among us.

It used to be a regular part of my life, but it’s been a long time now since I’ve been to the beach.  Maybe I need to change that.

Just dreaming of a warm sunny beach on a cold winter morning…

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19 comments on “The Ocean

  1. Sue says:

    The sea provided good food for those ancients as well.
    I’ve never been an ocean person—–maybe I’m hebrew?? LOL. Doubtful.
    But I do love a good stretch of open prairie—something most find “dull”. And I hope to get back to it in the near future.
    Have a good weekend and keep thinking those warm thoughts!

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    • Bill says:

      Good point Sue. I’m not one who feels a need to see the ocean everyday. For over 20 years I saw Tampa Bay out of my office window and we could be at the beach in a half hour whenever we wanted. I very rarely feel an urge to go to the beach now. It’s been 10 years or more since I’ve been. But reading the Kennedy quote made me start thinking about it and it certainly has it appeals in late February. 🙂

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  2. shoreacres says:

    Just be sure, if you head for the beach now, that you go far enough south. Like, Costa Rica. I’m listening to our outdoor show right now, and even the intrepid fishermen are grumpy. Water temperature? 44F. Wind? 27NNE. Temperature? 42. Sigh.

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    • Bill says:

      That’s not tropical enough. 🙂

      I just looked and it’s 64 in Tampa right now, on its way to a high of 74–a little chilly due to heavy rain. After after today it’s back to the 80’s for the rest of the week. That would warm the bones.

      But honestly I don’t feel drawn to the beach the way some people are. Cherie has a bottle of sand by the bed in a jar labeled “Home.” She’s definitely more of a beach person than I am. But a little time at the beach, especially as a break from winter, probably does a soul some good.

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  3. Bill, the beach, yeah, I think I’ve only seen the ocean maybe five times total in my life. Actually spending time on the beach of an ocean maybe two or three times. My wife wanted to give me the beach experience. She was from New Jersey and wanted this old Nebraska boy to have a real ocean experience. Because I sunburn really bad when out in the sun, I was determined not to get sunburned. So there I was laying on the beach towel clothed in a T-shirt, jeans, socks, with my arms folded over my chest, and a towel over my face and arms enjoying the beach. :-). As people walked past they must of had a strange look on their faces when they saw me because I could hear my wife saying to them, “He’s from Nebraska.”

    My first experience with the ocean was when I was about 12 on the pacific coast. Sunscreen was unheard of in the early 1960s. I learned to water ski during that ocean experience. That was awesome but by the next day I looked and felt like a cooked lobster. It hurt so bad that I lived in my swim trunks for three days which just happened to be days that the family was cooped up in a car traveling back to Nebraska. I gave new meaning to the term skin peel.

    So as you can see, this flat lander from the middle of the country doesn’t really feel the need to be near the ocean or the beach. Give me an awesome field of corn or a waving in the wind field of small grain and contentment flows over me. :-O

    Have a great ocean/beach dreaming day.

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    • Bill says:

      I have to admit that image of you on the beach all covered up is amusing. 🙂

      I’ve always preferred warm/hot weather. I’m not a beach nut, but I don’t mind the sun and heat at all and I do enjoy the beach. Once we had kids we’d usually wait until late afternoon to the go the beach. By then the tourists had mostly left. The kids loved playing in the sand and water and we could enjoy the beach (and eventually the sunset) without fear of frying. 🙂

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  4. avwalters says:

    I think that it’s the richness of life at the margins that brings us to the coasts. I grew up on the Great Lakes–not an ocean but just as good. Then I spent 30 years in Northern California, which is not your typical “beach” culture. I have always found my place in quiet spaces, usually by a stream. We have that here, and, if that’s not enough, the mighty Lake Michigan is only 6 miles away.

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    • Bill says:

      The coast of northern California is stunning. I once thought I wanted to live at Big Sur.

      Most days I’d prefer a stream in the woods to the beach (especially if it’s crowded and lined with high rise hotels and condos). I didn’t realize you were so close to Lake Michigan. If you ever get a powerful urge for the sea, you don’t have far to go.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. “I must go down to the sea again, to the lonely sea and sky…” One of my all time favorite poems. The sea appeals to my wandering heart. Like a receding train whistle in the distance. –Curt

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  6. Laurie Graves says:

    Me, too, Bill. And I’m sure you can imagine what it would be like on a Maine beach this time of year 🙂 But, soon, soon…

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    • Bill says:

      One of the best beaches I’ve ever experienced was at Bar Harbor. Our kids loved it. I was amazed that it was still light at ten o’clock. Obviously that was in the summer. I don’t think I would enjoy a Maine beach in February. 🙂

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  7. Even in February Maine beaches are worth the trip. I have lived here all my life and could not imagine having to drive more than 35 minutes to get to the ocean and even less to the nearest lake.

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    • Bill says:

      You live in a beautiful place. I’m sure Maine beaches in the winter are beautiful, but I’d enjoy them more in the summer. 🙂

      My wife says she doesn’t have to live on the beach, but she needs to know it’s near. When we lived in Florida we were only a half hour from the Gulf beaches. Now we’re about 3 hours away.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Deb Weyrich-Cody says:

    Hmm… Sea. Beach.
    Best memories ever?
    Anse Chastanet
    Twenty-Five years ago (when anyone could afford it; )

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    • Bill says:

      I have lots of great beach memories. I’ve never been to Anse Chastanet (I had to look it up). I’d say my favorite Caribbean beach was The Baths on Virgin Gorda, although I can’t remember ever being on one I didn’t like. 🙂

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      • Deb Weyrich-Cody says:

        Sorry, LOL, didn’t want to make it too easy, right off the bat… L’Anse Chastanet is a former sugar plantation with a view of les Pitons (the photographic icon for St. Lucia) near Soufrière and the mineral baths where Napoléon sent his troops for R & R. [And they were still there at the sulfur springs, those tiny concrete bath “tubs”]
        But, speaking of iconic scenes, d’you remember Dudley Moore (and Bo Derek) in “10” where he goes across the black sand beach on two towels? The original Dr. Doolittle was also filmed near by and it’s always been a favoured secret for divers with its rich marine habitat.
        Twenty-five years ago it was still an unspoiled place with no need for air conditioning or heavy security; a rustic place that, due to its goat-track access, was self-supporting, serving locally sourced food out of necessity…
        It was a tiny bit of heaven on earth.
        http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soufrière_Quarter
        But truly, we are so spoiled living here in Ontario, surrounded by the fresh-water lakes, rivers, streams and ponds that flow through the Oak Ridges Moraine, on their way to Lake Ontario… (Especially on a diamond-sparkling, powder dusted morning like this: )

        Liked by 1 person

  9. EllaDee says:

    Interesting, I live in a coastal city, look out over the harbour every working day, am a fairly regular beachgoer and if I had more time would spend much of it on a beach… but I come originally from an inland rural area. Last weekend we did a trip to the countryside around Canberra, the surrounding landscape is iconic Australian rural, vast rolling golden hills and vistas and similar to my childhood origins. The space and distance was a respite for our eyes and spirits. The days were hot but the evening had a pleasant autumnal coolness. But I can understand your particular longing for the warm sunny beach, as come winter I will have the same.

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    • Bill says:

      I’ve had the pleasure of visiting your beautiful city and the coast there. But if I should move to Australia I would want to live in the country. I wouldn’t mind living on a beach somewhere, as long as I had lots of quiet and room to myself. That’s not very likely these days. I’m happy to be here on the farm and don’t plan to leave. But on icy days like the day I wrote this, a warm sunny beach seemed very appealing. 🙂

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