I’ve been barging about the shop, pulling out half-finished projects that don’t seem to interest me and looking wistfully at old photos of sea and sky. A bad symptom is that I’ve been spending time looking online for one particular boat I lost track of years ago. Here is the issue: I require occasional doses of salt in the air. I need the smell of tidal flats, a view of a rolling horizon, or the marine weather forecast cutting through the hubbub of the marine supply store where I am perusing foul weather gear. I miss the sights, sounds, smells, and feel of the coast. All our trips have been inland this year, and the wettest terrain I’ve seen has been Lake Champlain. Wet but not salt.
I do not need perfect days at the beach. The sky can be cloudy and heavy with rain. Walking along the shore with the tide brushing my toes while an incoming squall threatens is just part of another perfect day seaside. After I dry off, I’ll head to the coffee shop and watch the rollers hit the breakwater.
It could be perfect to have an entire week along the coast. A month or longer – moving from town to town, harbor to harbor would be best. But I’ll have to settle for a weekend fix. There was a time when all of those smells, sounds, and sights formed a daily part of my life. I’d sit on a dock and gaze at the sea. I’d poke along the seawalls looking for any interesting thing the sea had decided to offer up.
It’s that time of year again. I have to get a fix. Too long away and I begin to feel like a disaffected imposter in my own life. My occasional withdrawal symptoms can be dealt with easily enough; get me to the coast – fast. I’ll be myself again by evening.
I fully understand what Melville was getting at:
“Call me Ishmael. Some years ago—never mind how long precisely—having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world…