The Ocean friend

Even when she was very small, she knew….

Where most small children might be frightened by their mother sliding under the waves in a black rubber suit and steely tank, she was not… It made her happy… It meant time… time on the shore…. he was always there with her, and with him she was always safe, never lonely…  he’d entertain her even at this young age,  filling tidepools with small friends, singing lullaby if she was sleepy, blowing seafoam bubbles to cover her little monkey toes with delight…  If anything she was sad when her mother surfaced, and took her… she would drag her feet in the sand, suddenly so heavy…  until hefted up into the baby backpack and carried away… 

only once was she the slightest bit afraid… but that wasn’t her fault, or his…  her cousins took her clam digging on the mudflats…  and waited too long on an incoming tide… The older ones had said “wait here until we come get you”  (and gave the smaller ones the umbrella) she was so small and her boots got stuck.  She was not afraid until the only slightly older kids started crying and saying things like they were going to drown, and then, as all little ones do when others are upset, began to worry…  There they were, the younger cousins huddled under a big umbrella under grey rainy skies and the seafoam getting closer and closer to the tops of her boots.  Worried that is until she realized that she could take her feet out of those rubber boots and was no longer stuck…  but the older kids wouldn’t move…  so this was still rather bothersome, too much responsibility for someone so small to tell them to take their feet out of their boots…   Finally, just as the water was filling her boots, her very big cousins (they were maybe  10 and 12? but very very big to her 3 or 4) swooped in like a team of superheros and carried the tiny ones off the mud flats…   They asked why the little ones hadn’t moved… silly question thought the tiny one,  who’s bare feet were now dangling, dripping with seafoam… 

then it became a game… as she grew….  he would nip at her skirt hem,  daring game with varying waves sets whilst she was playing at the interface of land and sea,  she would play coy and try to stay dry… this worked fine until her mother who didn’t understand the game would take her out too far in the waves ….  her mother never understood why she was so upset to have the gold ribbon on her home-made gypsy skirt soaking wet… it had nothing to do with vanity…  it meant she’d lost!  

She grew up on his shores, embraced in his salty arms…  he was her companion, mentor, entertainer…   His cool salty breath created the most delightful green playground a child could ever dream of… And as she grew, he became the one she would love above all else…  

And they were happy… until she was taken far far away to a very very very dry place… a place where she learned the meaning of her favorite word…   A place where she’d leave her window open every night that it wasn’t below freezing so she might get the tinyiest of whiffs of marine air… he would send her these small reminders as frequently as he could, but they were more often than not blocked by multiple mountain ranges… and it was hard, sometimes they were frozen long before they ever made it to her, falling as crystals with no smell… only clean smell, covering the lingering overlay of dust… the clay dust that covered everything for 2/3rds of the year, permeating the skin… every emotion became clay colored, a depressing dusty existence…  waiting for one thing…   And that thing, that amazing thing shared its path with danger… with his gifts would come the thunder storms, the lightning that would start the dry hills aflame, and that smoke smell would just make it all worse… dust, clay, smoke, haze….   And so the summer would creep towards fall,  her hands cracked like the lake beds and bleeding from the unrelenting dry air… (she was a water creature after all!)  the water table dropping so low that the wells dried up and even fish in the river were left gasping…   if someone had designed a perfect purgatory, this would be it she thought on more than one occasion.    and she would despair…  it was like the drought of summer was evaporating her will to fight…   it wasn’t the heat, the heat was fine, it was simply the lack of water… and like those poor fish in the ever shallower river,  she was suffocating…   

until one night, a very special night each fall…  when his gift, packaged up in silver mist and lighting edges finally made it past the mountains and the thirsty plains that sucked up so many before…   and in her sleep, she would dream… dream of the temperate rain forest with its pine and duff and salt and sphagnum and epiphytic mosses, lichens and ferns smells…  the smell of saltwater on basalt….   the smell of rain on driftwood…  and the tidepools from her childhood… 

and then it was there..

Petrichor!!!

that smell, the smell of the first rain drops very very far away falling on the sun beaten barren rocky plateaus…  the night air carrying the hint of humidity and fragrance across the miles, his gift would finally make its way to her window sill, and he would slip inside, a sly incubus, a reminder of what lay to the west…  crashing on the igneous rocks… reaching out to touch her…. riding on high cirrus clouds over the mountain range…  coalescing into thunderheads….  reminding her what it meant to be alive…   she would smile in her sleep,  and awake just as the huge drops began their rhythmic pounding on the orange metal roof…. and she would run outside, barefoot, nightgown fluttering in the wind,  without fear of lightning, and dance and run… soaking up his gift…  replenishing her soul….  and then she would stand there,  head back, arms outstretched, soaked to the core body and soul by the warm rain, her lovers touch from so far away…  it was their word, petrichor, the smell of wet rocks, the smell of the fluid that runs through the veins of the earth…  with the slightest hint of salt and …..pineapples

  2 comments for “The Ocean friend

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

%d bloggers like this: