Friday, May 12, 2017

The Sea

My love affair with the sea started long ago.

I grew up just a 5 minute walk from the shore, and although I don't remember those toddler trips to the beach with my mother, I do know that the sea air seeped into my being and became part of my soul. So much so, that if I'm ever away from it for too long I have an ache in my bones and a longing in my heart to return to it's vast embrace.

I have early memories of sunny days and soft sands at Brittas Bay. The thrill of my parents giving the nod that yes, we were going. The race around the house for togs and towels, while my mother made the picnic to see us through the day. White bread sandwiches, boiled eggs, crisps, biscuits and the all important flask of coffee.

Although we lived beside the sea, going to Brittas brought extra excitement. The hot sand that squeaked under bare feet, the huge dunes that we would spend long hours running up and tumbling down, the seashore that was warm and shallow and inviting - it was a million miles from our own stoney beach with dangerous dips and crashing waves, even if it was just a thirty minute drive from our door.

We would spend the entire day roaming through long reeds, and in and out of the twinkling water. Until, skin prickled with heat and sun, our parents would collect us up and lead us back to the car, all tanned limbs and sea sprayed hair.

Aged eleven I did a local swimming challenge - 1 mile in the sea in exchange for a medal and bragging rights forever more. I remember the waves engulfing me and salty water filling my gasping mouth. I remember wondering whether I'd make it to the finish that seemed as far away as adulthood. I remember finally reaching the end, and how on the way back home my dad told every person we met what I'd done. Proud as punch.

My childhood summers were spent in a constant flow up and down to the beach, just like the tide. Whole days were spent jumping and diving off rocks, diving boards and bridges into the welcoming sea. The deep intake before launching off the edge, the hard smack of entry, the shock of freezing water as it engulfed body and head, the bubbles streaming past open eyes, before finally coming up for air.

Then swimming back in to do it all over again. And again. And again.

My early adulthood was spent travelling. In Mexico I languished in the turquoise water, looking up at the sky as I drifted on the gentle waves. A red bandana, tied around my tanned wrist cut through the infinite blues. I lost my heart to the incredible sparking seas of Australia - sometimes tinged with the possible danger of sharks, saltwater crocs and jellyfish. The picture postcard water of Thailand didn't seem real, I would spend long hours on a hammock staring into it. Glowing blues and greens carrying brightly coloured wooden boats. Like the entire country was bathed in a chrome filter. HD views for all. When the storm hit we dashed into the sea, escaping the stinging rain beating our faces by diving under the huge waves. Water on water. I'm not sure I ever felt so alive.

New Zealand's seas were wild and grey and reminded me of home. I went swimming with dolphins off the coast of KaiKoura, and the depths of the dark water around me sent a rush of fear through my veins. The dolphins raced up and past us, swerving and ducking at the last minute so we didn't collide. It felt like being routed to the middle of a motorway while cars flew at you in every direction.

Coming back to Ireland to settle down saw me spending some time living inland. There was a river and a lake in the village, but no ocean at the end of the road. I stayed for a time but it never felt quite right. When I finally moved back to seaside living it was like a deep exhale.

Now I take my own children down to my beloved sea. We walk barefooted through the town, down to the stony grey shore. Sometimes I'll swim, sometimes I'll just breath it in, so as to remind my bones that it's still in touching distance.

Last year I made a pact to take to the freezing water at least once a month for a full year. Every swim was a cold, invigorating, life affirming, de-stressing dash of happiness. Each time it's as if the person you trust most in the world is telling you that everything will be ok, and sure what are you worrying about that for anyway? The best and cheapest therapy in the world.

Every coast, every season, every time of day brings a different sea view, a different mood, a different gift.

Sea love. A lifetime of wonder.

No comments :

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...