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* The ocean

August 20, 2019
My “swimming pool”

I grew up in Fort Dauphin in southeast Madagascar in a house that had the Indian Ocean on 3 sides. Close enough to the ocean that when the seas were rough and crashing against the rocks along the shore about 1 km away you could almost feel it. Here’s an attempt to try and put into words some of how I sensed it:

Sound – very easy to hear from quite far away when it was rough. When it was almost mirror-like then just a gentle soft flap on the sand. If in a spot where the waves rolled, it was a constant roar. Where waves simply went splat on the sand then an episodic thump and crash, with a quiet in breath in between as the water receded back from the beach.

Smell – there’s nothing like the smell of the ocean. Salty yet fresh in it’s own way. If upwind of the ocean there might not be any smell. If downwind sometimes it can be almost overpowering.

View – the view of the ocean I find mesmerizing. In part because it has so many views. Angry, peaceful, troubled, moody. Sometimes it’s blue, other times grey. At sunrise and sunset on a clear day it can be a liquid golden. Waves that range from miniscule to very big, sometimes with currents moving through the surf as well.

Feel – I spent a great deal of time swimming. Engulfed in the coolness of the water which it embraced you and held you up (making swimming a lot of fun). On the other hand, given the buoyancy of salt water, making it harder to dive down under the water,though I spent most of my time on top of the water. And also the feel of riding innertubes in big waves that smashed down on the sand, with water as much sand as water.

The ocean. I miss it dearly. Most days. And when occasionally I’m back along the shore somewhere, I stand in awe that I spent 10 years living on the ocean.

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