Monday, July 21, 2008
Breath of Life: Marine Air in the Morning
Waking early from a dream on this summer morning, I sensed the difference at once. Ah, yes! The “marine air” had arrived in Tacoma overnight, as promised, and feeling like a traitor to the idea that summer should be all sunshine and heat, I welcomed it. The atmosphere carried to me, in its body of oxygen and moisture on the verge of mist, the fresh smell of the sea that I had grown up with. I stumbled across the room, raised the shade, and slung the window open wide, to breathe deeply and contemplate the day. My list of chores would have to wait. The water called to me.
This kind of gray morning on Puget Sound holds a kind of intimacy for the few of us at the Point Defiance boathouse. A kind of private serenity rests over all, because of marine air. It floats on the cold surface of the water. It spreads an invisible blanket of peace from shore to wooded shore, obscuring the most distant points of land. Birds circle through it.
The metal parts connecting sections of the float, creak as it gently bobs. An outboard motor starts up, then begins to fade in the distance.The ferry Rhododendron glides toward the dock. North of Gig Harbor, an area of fog slowly drifts across to the east, dispersing like smoke. I feel a hint of mist on my skin and know the wild, free curls in my hair are getting wilder.
Between the Point and Vashon Island, fishermen traverse the brine in their boats. I imagine their eyes gazing out from the weathered faces. In their silence is reverence. The seagull’s cry and the sound of water slapping against the hull feel like hymns to them. We all breathe and feed on marine air, nourishment for a new day, every cell filled and fueled with fresh energy. Each of us seeks something. They troll for hidden fish and I will go home to sit at my keyboard and troll for hidden words, in the deep waters of my mind.
The forgotten coffee sits cold in my mug. The sky is brighter, the air less moist, promising another warm summer day, the kind we all claim to covet. From minute to minute, as I type and look out the window, I can see the colors in my yard intensify, the sun starting to burn through. A slight breeze means the last touch of mist will soon be gone. Cars drive by, busy people on their way to somewhere.
I have a million things I should be doing and it’s nearly noon. I don’t care. I took the time to honor who I am, and where I come from, by going down to the water’s edge where I am most at home. Now I’ll spend the day in gratitude for all the good things in my life, including it’s contrasts. The secret to life is to fully experience and appreciate it all, and then to have some solitude in which to ponder it. How glad I am that I indulged in the pleasures of a morning of marine air.