After publishing Gale’s Gift, I received several comments from readers saying they enjoyed my descriptions of the sea. I hadn’t given it much consideration at time of writing, but the ocean is one of those things that proves your writing about a place is so much better if you’ve been there. Research can be enough to get you by if it’s a must, but there’s something extra special that comes from being present.
There’s nothing like being near the ocean. The feeling of the cool ocean air, the scent of the water, the taste of brine on the air. There’s the sound of the water, the surf, the way the sand crackles when the tide first comes in and soaks it. There’s the rasping of shells as they move over rock and sand, the whoosh of the wings of seagulls, and the refreshing sensation of the waves throwing mist over your skin.
It’s hard not to describe the ocean with a lot of love. I only lived near it for a short period of time, but the memories forged there were precious. The base had its own private section of beach, though we only went there once. I scavenged shark teeth from the sand, collected shells, and enjoyed the warmth of the tide pools. More often, we’d pack a portable grill into the trunk of the car on the weekend and head over the bascule bridge to spend an afternoon on Emerald Island.
We always meant to walk the pier, but we never did. We got all the way up to the side of it one time, but we were tired and had miscalculated how far away we’d parked, so we decided to turn back. The pier was always busy, anyway; the beach below the candy-colored houses rarely had so many people on it.
I loved the way you could look at the water and see forever. I loved watching the tide change, watching the fish caught in the waves, watching the pleasure ships coming and going from the harbor. But mostly I loved the air, the sun, and the odd sense of peace that came from sitting on the shore. Strange to think it could be so comforting to sit beside something so devastatingly powerful, especially when I’ve never been very good at swimming. I don’t think I ever went in farther than knee deep.
And strange to think that after such a small period of time being around it, I’d still hear the song of the sea so clearly, and feel its pull on summer days. I want to go back, but for now, the best I can do is use words like these, trying to trap its melody on pages.