To the sea

Bill

by L. G. William Chapman, B.A., LL.B.

I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,

And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by;

And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,

And a grey mist on the sea’s face, and a grey dawn breaking

Sea Fever by John Mansfield 1878–1967

All my life I have itched to return to the sea. There is I suppose some genetic authority for the yearning, the theory that all life came from the sea in the first place. Then layer on top of that the Gestalt promoted in the Magus about returning whence we began and it completes the symmetry of living. Scientific speculation and psychology aside there is a romance about the sea and its well-established beguilement. My keenness for it is so great that I am only too willing to submit to the allure of the sea and to submerge myself perhaps perilously in its magic (which is no accidental meld of the religiosity of the Magi and the alchemy of the magician, an unlikely congress of priests and sorcerers).

Our East coast brothers and sisters know very well about what I speak. Even the most casual jaunt along the Atlantic Ocean is mesmerizing, so outlandishly different from the rude and comparatively pathetic sail along the 401 in Upper Canada. As lucky as we are to have Muskoka and Sand Banks, they’re not the Ocean. Lakes and rivers never compete with the Ocean to my mind. I need to see and hear the crash of the surf.

Even if the sea is restful its magnificent swells remind me of the power beneath.

My affection for the sea has some inherent legitimacy; the paternal side of my clan is from New Brunswick and for years I have heard tales of the beach at Shediac and the renowned tidal range of the Bay of Fundy. And lobster of course. No matter where one is on the Ocean the colours are striking. Even on a dull day the sandy greys are exceptional. As most of my time at the Ocean has been spent on the Atlantic I am always looking east which makes for great sunrises and flashing sails at sunset. The huge horizons are perhaps matched only by the expanse of the sky in Western Canada when overlooking sections of land at Harvest time. The Ocean horizon is however seemingly endless and I can never cease to imagine what it over there in the furthest distance.

Sometimes when I am home (inland) I hear the sound of sea gulls and instantly my heart flies again to the sea. In Cape Cod (where I routinely traveled for many years on Labour Day) I customarily awoke to the screaming sound of gulls clustered by the hundreds upon the rustic boat houses in performance of some unknown matutinal ceremony. Later in the day while walking along the beach for my afternoon fix of the salt sea air I always remarked upon the distinctive grey and white colours of the gulls floating above the surf. Given the expanse of the beach and the water and the sky one never feels cramped by the sea. One’s mind and soul are allowed to open to fill the incredible void and in doing so one’s troubles and concerns dissipate. And nothing beats the tingle of an Ocean sunburn, the echo of which is felt mindfully with the blush of the first evening cocktail.