If Sally McKenzie didn’t live in Australia, I am sure she would be right with us at the Celine Cousteau event on October 22nd reflecting on how the oceans effects culture and community. On what is called “long service leave,” Sal, a teacher in Melbourne, Australia, manned with her ipad as a photo journal, has been traveling for a month in South Africa (visiting her son), the island of Orkney Scotland (attracted to that island by a love of her family’s ancestry), Martha’s Vineyard (to check out the annual Derby and more) and Nova Scotia. Her passion is working harbors, lighthouses and communities by the sea. She has been emailing a regular group of family and friends about her journey and here are some of her ocean observations from her final destination, Cleveland Ohio where she is attending a conference:
How strange it is to be so far from the ocean after months of homage to the Atlantic.
This year, I have seen it from Cape Town, from Orkney, from Martha’s Vineyard and from Nova Scotia. And, in all of these places, it exerts a brooding presence that seeps into the consciousness of the people who reside near it.
It is both giver and taker of life. It is a millionaire’s playground from the deck of a yacht in Nantucket. It provides a livelihood from a trawler out of Menemsha. It formed a natural barrier to prisoners hoping to escape from Robben Island in Cape Town’s harbour. It is a whale watcher’s territory in Halifax. A shark-infested beach in Camps Bay, Cape Town.
And, always, it is a force majeur- an entity not to be trifled with.
And now I am in the middle of continental USA.
Cleveland, Ohio, where the biggest body of water, and indeed it is a significant body, is that of Lake Erie. But we are a long way from the ocean.
Our taxi driver from the airport, a man who had classical music on his radio,said, “I’ve seen the ocean,once. I liked it.”
We who live by the sea, whose holiday memories are infused with beach and surf and sun, would be hard pressed to live too far from the edges of our island continent and yet take this privilege of proximity for granted. The lure of the sea, and the limitless possibilities it offers, is a seminal force in our lives.
Sometimes we need to go away to realise what we have left behind.