Where I live, you can drive forever north or south or east, but travel west and in a few minutes you'll hit the sea. Look out the windshield and there it is, an expanse of 64,000,000 square miles of water that reaches over the horizon and literally into tomorrow.
For so many of us who were born near it, the ocean often beckons, if not for a swim then at least for a look-see. Last week I developed some of the film from our most recent look-see and one of those shots, the one above, really struck a chord, in a minor key, and offered a reminder of how much of my soul is mixed with salt water.
When I was little, and my mother would get into one of her spells of unpredictability, she'd hop in the '59 Caddy and head for the same spot you see in the picture. I don't know why. Usually she'd simply walk the length of the pier a few times and come home, but once in a while she'd bring a pole and start fishing. For a person who never really liked leaving her house, this was a pretty daring move.
The woman in the above photograph is not my mother, but for me to look at that photo is to see my mom during the days I sometimes ache to forget, out there by herself, her line sitting on the bottom in the shallows. I don't think she ever set out to catch anything. It may have been just an excuse to go out and look at boats. I suspect I made the photograph because something in me needed to, some subconscious memory saw an image from my past and prompted the urge to record it.
Before I was born, my parents did a lot of albacore fishing. The sport was popular in the post-war forties and fifties, and charters out to the deep water were a way for guys to regain that feeling of being on a mission, on the sea again, fully equipped and out for blood -- except now neither the Nazis nor the Japanese were shooting at them and they could drink beer the whole time. It also gave the guys a chance to see which gals were game for blood and guts.
Maybe mom was going out to the pier to rethink her own mission, to float her own memories of those days, out where she could touch them and smell them and have them blow through her hair.
"Sea Cruise" -- Frankie Ford -- THE BEST OF 50'S PARTY - (courtesy of janus records)
Wisdom of the Day:
"There is nothing more enticing, disenchanting, and enslaving than the life at sea."
- Joseph Conrad, Lord Jim