A view of the sea? It couldn’t get much easier to inspire a casual photographer who has dwelled by the ocean nearly all her life.
Beyond that, this blog exists because of sea changes in our family’s lives. Those events have propelled us on many journeys, ultimately leading us back to the sea early this summer, to deposit some of Jim’s ashes in Dublin, and most in the ocean at the Giant’s Causeway.
Yet with all those changes, so many things seem to have come full circle.
One of my daughters spent nearly a third of this summer deep under the sea studying marine biology, diving among coral reefs. Above is one of the photographs she took there. (This was the same daughter who chose that very Shakespeare quote to make a point in a school poetry project many years ago.)
It was only after she had been interviewed and selected to help study, among other things, why these particular reefs have been thriving that she deduced, from reading the supervising professor’s past publications, that she would be working with the very same Biology professor who had supervised her dad’s summer research and senior thesis nearly thirty years ago.
So there was my daughter, working on her major in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology with the same professor who supervised her father’s work at the same university where he was a Biology major and he and I met. . . . only because science laboratory classes were required, and I thought the Biology labs would be the easiest for me. (Spoiler alert: Plant Bio is not that easy for us liberal-artsy types.)
The sea is a unifying backdrop to multiple family milestones and passions. My daughter studied under the sea, and Jim released pigeons for one summer to divine how they were able to navigate their way back home inland, over the sea near Massachusetts’s South Shore.
Our daughter’s undersea summer adventure had to have tickled Jim’s spirit no end.
Because one of us tended to be behind the lens, very few pictures of Jim and me exist. My favorites were taken shortly before Jim died, by The World’s Most Interesting Man, one against a background of steeply shadowed volcanic rocks and a roiling sapphire sea, and one on white sand backing onto a teal ocean surface as still as glass.
First look at the pure happiness in Jim’s face. Then consider that he had learned barely a month before they were taken that his cancer would take his life–and that it did, fewer than three months later. This was a man who knew how to take the terrible with the beautiful.
Last month I was handed some small pieces of burnished copper sea glass near a small strip of beach that was mostly rock, crisscrossed with tangled seaweed.
I contemplated all the sea changes I could see in my palm, warmed by an overbearing summer sun: the mundane shape of a broken brown beer bottle into the unique shape of one of its now missing pieces; the whole of an identifiable object into a fractured fragment that remains part of something bigger; the large and readily visible into the small and easily hidden; the clear into the opaque; the sharpness of raw broken edges into sea-softened rims; the blurring of uniform dark brown into a variegated rust washed with white, looking as if it had been dusted with sugar.
And I considered the full-circle sea change of glass itself, melted silica sand engineered by human design, then discarded into a sea from whose fathoms it emerges as decorative totems giving a hint of a subdued sparkle in the sand until we pick up the pieces again.