Sunday, October 04, 2009

Gentle Touch

The awesome power of the sea cannot be described to one that has never felt it. To stand on the shore and listen to that roar and dance around in that foamy main is to be like a mouse stepping gingerly about in a lion’s beard. We frolic and play in the mouth of a beast and on days when it’s mood and fair it tickles our ankles and laps at our thighs and rocks us gently. On days when it feels in a black mood it slaps our faces and stings our eyes and grabs us and tosses us down and holds us under, snatches a shovel or pail or small child and carries it away to satisfy the whims of the dark eyes of dripping fanged beasties of the deep sea. In some places you can look down at your toes through clear and gentle waters and in others the water of blue and green and churning salt lather hides things that snake slimily around your legs or rise pointedly between your toes so that you lift your foot and hurry away from whatever it is, maybe backing out of the water, hesitant now to accept its cool wet kiss. What sharp toothed things are hiding under that laughing undulating surface? Eels and sharks and things with claws and other thing that strange children warned you about when you played on the sand as a tot. What were those things that they warned you about? Warned you that they were hiding under the sand in the water where the surf breaks. Something that you thought you could see as a line under the sand, something like a snake but worse because it did not even need to breath air. What things are out there? The multicolored beach balls, the bright umbrellas pushed into the sand have never dreamed of the things that lie out there waiting for some unsuspecting fool to wade out too far or splash too much thus giving away their precise location. And yet, often the innocent play around in the briny wet and feel the tingle of power splashing their tummies. The sea can be tolerant and affectionate. It will wash its long lost kin as an old grandmother bathes an infant, with the softest possible touch. With the same tenderness, it will feed them small shiny wriggling things, even if like some infants we bite at the very teat from which we wish to nurse. We would do well not to forget that it is a lioness with whom we are dealing, and her great age leaves her with no less ferocity than she was capable of in the days when her waters were red and not blue. So tread lightly little mouse. Play carefully, and never let down your guard.

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