Saturday, February 6, 2010

365 Photo Project - Day 37

Taken: February 6, 2010, approx. 3 p.m.
Location: Palisades Park, Santa Monica, CA

I have always lived on one coast or the other, never in the middle. I've found homes in big cities and small towns, in suburbs and planned communities, in urban neighborhoods and at the end of cul de sacs. East, West, North, South. Upstairs, in the basement and at the end of two-mile dirt roads. Wherever  I've called home has brought a degree of tranquility. Yet I have found that I am never more at peace than when I can be near the sea.

I didn't grow up on the water but my parents used to take us to Martha's Vineyard every summer (and often for one- or two-week trips in between) and it was there I came to love living near water. I'm not a classic seafaring type. I don't much like swimming in it and while I admire surfers, I'm not coordinated enough to do that. I love to sail but I'm no expert and I'm too impatient to be good at fishing or even sunbathing.

What I love is just being in the ocean's neighborhood. The smell of sand and seaweed, of fish and salt and that particular way a good sea breeze can clear out your sinuses and cleanse your soul. I love sitting on a creaky wooden dock, listening to the pinging of halyard on mast, the slapping of the wake against fiberglass hulls, the soft cooing of birds, the whoosh of the tide. I love getting lost in the endless layers of things that float in on the wind. If I can dip my toes in the ocean at the same time, well that's just gravy.

Our house in Santa Monica was just close enough to the beach that you could hear the waves at night. Off in the distance, it would mix with the sounds of the traffic on Pico Blvd. Perfect sleeping weather although I often found myself lying awake, staring at the ceiling, quietly listening. In the morning as the marine layer would slowly burn off, the scent of the sea was everywhere, reminders of our proximity to the Pacific. I miss that.

These days, I live close enough to the water -- 35 minutes by car -- that the longing to be near the ocean isn't piercing and there's always my regular trips to L.A. to quench my thirst. But I know without a doubt that someday I'll have to return to my sea and my sea-gazing for real.  For now, I'll take fleeting moments like today when I stood out at Palisades Park in between (and during) the rains and marveled at the way the sun sparkled through cloud patterns, how the surface of the ocean rippled gently in a cold breeze, seemingly stretching out forever, endless.  Even a passing storm's fat drops of cold rain couldn't interrupt the magic of the moment.

This image was as close as I could get to capturing it. Taken with my k100D, 55mm lens and edited in Photoshop.