Sunday, April 27, 2008

The North Sea

Three times I have been so struck by an experience that all five senses and mind together could not comprehend it completely. Once, aboard a fragile plane flying over Mount Denali and a magnificent infinity of mountains and glaciers, words failed me as they had years earlier, when I first saw and held my firstborn. Much earlier still, I must have been 6 years old, my parents were advised to take me to the seaside after a bad bout of whooping cough. On the train that took us there, they surely must have described it to me: vast and salty, sand at its bottom and fish in it, going all the way to England and America.

We arrived on a windy afternoon, walked down some streets and suddenly round a corner, there it was as big as the sky, roaring and crashing grays and somber greens above the screeches of seagulls. Wind whipped the sand and surf filling my eyes, mouth and nose, chilling my face and bare legs while inside me my heart pounded, swelling and rolling like the wild waves. It was beautiful and terrible and irresistible, and I gave myself to it right there and then and forever.

I have returned, not often enough, to that same seashore in search of the magic of the North Sea. I chose her for this title page because peaceful or furious, I love her and she has never failed me.

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