Wednesday, 26 September 2012

A View of the Ocean

I’ve grown up with some very romantic ideas about the ocean, loving tales of adventure on the high seas.  A view of open water is magical to me, completely humbling and completely beautiful.  From childhood I’ve seen the ocean as a place of mystery and wonder, somewhere the imagination can roam at will.  In the last couple of weeks, I’ve heard these sentiments echoed; I’ve encountered more than one fisherman who spoke of his love of being on the water – of the sense of freedom it brings.

Boats moored at New Bonaventure

(Photo: Claire McDougall)

Things are never simple, though.  In communities that are closely tied to the ocean, and dependent on it in many ways, relationships with the water are necessarily complex and multi-layered.  A conversation I had a couple of days ago really brought this home to me.  Two women described their intense aversion to the water.  One cannot bear to watch when her son goes down to the wharf.  The other has lived in Keels for thirty-eight years (her husband was a fisherman for twenty-one of those) and, in her time here, she has been out in a boat twice.   

Keels Harbour

(Photo: Claire McDougall)

Their comments struck me very deeply.   I’ve been trying to imagine living my life, constantly facing something that was a source of intense fear, and I’ve found it very difficult.  The ocean has the power to provide (great bounty at times) but it also holds the power of life and death.  It seems this power is easier to accept when it is being faced directly.  As in so many things, that which is unknown is the most frightening… it is the waiting and not knowing that is difficult to handle.

My time in Keels has given me plenty to think about so far, and a new way of looking at the sea. 

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