I Must Go Down to the Sea Again.

Wednesday October 18, 2017

I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying
John Masefield

That's the second verse of John Masefield's poem. Most people are rather more familiar with Spike Milligan's parody in which he mentions that he left his shoes and socks there; "I wonder if they're dry?"

In the Wizard of Oz, Dorothy sings "Somewhere over the rainbow". The third stanza contains the words,

Someday I'll wish upon a star
Wake up where the clouds are far behind me
Where trouble melts like lemon drops
High above the chimney top
That's where you'll find me

Dorothy's happy place was fictional. My fictional happy places are normally in the kitchens of my characters. I sit round the table with them, drinking tea, or coffee, or the occasional glass of wine, and chatting. But I am lucky enough to also have a happy place which can be found on a map. This is the sea; specifically, the Essex coast.

I have blogged about our beach before (Mudflats, 23rd August). Whenever we visit, the troubles and trials and petty irritations of normal life "disappear". It is not so much that they no longer exist, but that the sea puts them into perspective.

The tide comes in and the tide goes out. We have no power over it. A spring tide* will send the waves crashing at the sea wall, to hurl spray far over the roof of the house, and then retreat far, far out leaving a silver expanse of shining mud reflecting all the light in the sky. The neap tides are sulky; the waters stay sullen, turning their back on the beach so the discarded seaweed of the higher tides is left stranded and dry in great bales full of sand hoppers and all the odorous detritus of the sea.

The sky here is unbroken by mountains or the structures of man. The clouds come and go as the wind wills. When they change pattern the light streams through in glorious Jacob's Ladders which invite the soul to climb aloft. On clear days, the sun sings a cerulean paean and at night the stars scatter careless diamonds on the water and the full moon casts a path across the ripples straight to our door.

And the sunsets. Ah, the sunsets are glory itself.

So, I am just a very small being and my troubles, which seem to be so all-encompassing, are infinitesimal against the indifference of the sea and the sky. The sea brings peace to my soul.

I hope you have your "happy place" too. If I ask you to think of it for a moment, where will you go?

A Moodscope member.

*Nothing to do with the seasons, a spring tide occurs with a new or full moon; a neap tide at the quarter moons)

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