Bodies of Water
Bodies of water have always fascinated me. I remember, as a child, seeing a water-strider in a puddle on the side of the road. I wondered: how did it get there? How did it know where to look? More recently, when I was outside playing with my friend’s daughter in Oklahoma the day after a storm, we noticed that tiny tadpoles had hatched in the rain water by her house. This delighted us both, and we checked in on them every day, until the sun came out and dried the puddles up. It has always struck me that, wherever there is water, there is life.
I have always loved the ocean. In old family photos, you can see me crawling in the surf and sand with a waterlogged diaper. My siblings and I loved to dig for sandcrabs. We would wait for a wave to recede, then search frantically for bubbles coming up out the sand, indicating the presence of a crab that was burrowing down. Then we would dig as fast as we could to find it before the next wave hit, shrieking as the water crashed in around us. You haven’t truly lived until you have played tag with the ocean.
Those who live near bodies of water, especially the sea, live under the influence. California beach towns are full of quirky store-owners and strange lawn decor; business men and women who traded in their suits for sandals. Residents seem permanently wind-swept, as if peace took them by surprise. They hang wind-chimes from every branch, and bring back bits of broken shells to decorate their gardens. Succulents and pine trees thrive. Roadside fruit stands and kite stores do quite well. And houses are covered in front facing windows, so people can watch the sunset over the water from their kitchen table.
The last time I visited, my mom bought me a necklace from a store along the water. I wear it to church sometimes, here in Iowa, and when the beads hit my neck, I can almost feel the shiver of ocean air. Most people don’t realize how cold northern California beaches are. The coast is wild there, untamable, and gorgeous. The water is frigid. Residents walk around wearing visors, sunglasses, and scarves. You must always bring a sweater. Many homes are owned by the rich, who only visit during the summer months. Houses sit empty most of the year, picket fences gathering moss. I imagine the owners arriving after months away, looking for the salt and pepper shakers they left on their last visit. Filling their refrigerator with organic produce and kombucha. Then sitting out on their sun-bleached deck with a glass of wine, and maybe, some pen and paper.
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