Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Wonder Remains

When I was little a trip to the beach could be totally wrecked by a storm. We frolicked in palpable dread of grey, gathering clouds, knowing how easily they could signal the awful piercing trill of the lifeguard’s whistle, slicing through the salty winds like a carving knife, cutting all our fun to ribbons. One crack of thunder and we would be herded inside like a pack of sad puppies - our lips red from cherry snow cones, our fingertips wrinkled from seawater - back into our chilled hotel rooms to sit forlornly at the windows and lament the gross unfairness of our fate. The risk of being zapped into oblivion by a lightning strike seemed far preferable to the dismal reality of peeling off of a clingy wet bathing suit in an air-conditioned room, doomed to a beachless afternoon. For a child who had dreamed of the sea for eleven long months, being at the beach, but not on the beach, was hideously hard to endure.

Naturally, adulthood brings many changes. Retreating to bed early is no longer a punishment, vegetables are not the suspicious oddities they once were. Unlike my childhood self, I now appreciate the benefits of sunblock, I do not mind wearing a hat, and I long for a storm at the beach.
Comfortably situated on a wide covered porch with my eyes fixed upon that mysterious line where leaden sky meets turbulent sea, I have so often found a histrionic thunderstorm to be the perfect author of magical thought. Colours sprout and spawn with every crash of a storm-tossed sea, ideas bloom like wildflowers and twine like ivy, all through the hallways of my mind - rainbows swirling, dervishes awhirl - more so with every roaring wave, every howling wind. The sea is a masterpiece when calm, but an astonishment during a storm. It is simple to understand why so many words have been written beside the sea - so many paintings painted, so many souls examined.

Yes, I head to the beach with quite different intentions than I did in my little girl years. I read, I nap, I think, I write, I stare out to sea and dream. The snow cones may be gone, but the wonder remains. I am heading to the beach next week and am putting in my humble request now for a big, fat, thunderstorm!


My mind has thunderstorms,
That brood for heavy hours:
Until they rain me words,

My thoughts are drooping flowers
And sulking, silent birds.

Yet come, dark thunderstorms,
And brood your heavy hours;
For when you rain me words,
My thoughts are dancing flowers
And joyful singing birds.

by William Henry Davies