Written By Water

How soothing is the sea. No matter what form it takes. Whether it be wide, open, unencumbered, or held gently in the confines of a bay, it exudes a calm, a belief in life that cannot be denied.

It is mid-afternoon. I sit by the breakwater under charcoal smudged clouds, wanting to be unseen, to collect my thoughts.

Seagulls bounce on the waves, forming rings. They close their circles, open them. Close them, then open them again in some kind of synchronised routine. Are they hunting for fish or sending messages to the gods of the sky?

Water tern walk along the sandbanks, legs long as supermodels, pausing as the water begins to lap at their feet as if striking a pose, then turning to walk back, closer to land.

A little boy aged about three comes and sits beside me. He has a little wooden boat. It looks like one of those boats you see in glass bottles – hand-carved with magnificent masts. His grandfather hovers nearby, I suspect he is the one who made the boat.

‘My boat doesn’t go in the water yet,’ says the little boy. ‘She’s not ready to swim. Just like me. I’m not ready to swim yet. I might sink.’ He runs off, clutching his boat to his chest, giggling as his grandfather follows.

Rowers from the University rowing club thrust through the water. Eight people who all want the same thing at once – to move as one through the silver spray. They are dressed in pale blue in a grey blue canoe. I wouldn’t be mistaken in thinking they were creatures of water.

The reeds sway just below the water like ribbon. Toadfish, plump as ripe fruit, hover as if sleeping. A young girl sits on the bench nearby, begins to read. Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility. She clicks each page as she turns it, crisply, as if counting hundred dollar bills. She has the manner of a Victorian heroine, fragile and seashell pale.

Oh how soothing is the sea, the sound of it akin to a sigh from Heaven. How fortunate I am to sit here, writing by water, the sound of the waves like voices of old friends. The lull and the pull and the catch of it as familiar as breathing.

15 thoughts on “Written By Water

  1. Water is magical. It washes away the stress, soothes the day, and makes things bright again. Thanks for letting us sit with you near the water. It was lovely.


  2. Ahhhh….so lovely and soothing dear Selma; I feel like I’m there too. Beautifully expressed.

    BTW, Have you ever read the book: Beachcombing at Miramar? If you haven’t, I think you’d love it. It is definitely a summer read that you will never forget. This post reminded me of the this beautifully written book that is one of my all time favs. 🙂


  3. I can feel it.

    What wonderful descriptions.

    I believe that nothing is more exquisite than writing in the moment, right when you are there experiencing the reality.


  4. Ottawa’s a great place to live except for the lack of an ocean.

    “Seashell pale” — if ever there was a perfect descriptor. This entry made me go aaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhh!


  5. The water is mother natures cradle rocking you with its calm waves,constantly winking at you with the moon’s hypnotic reflection.


  6. KAREN – it is amazing how it clears the head. My son thinks it’s because we were all water creatures before we evolved onto land. So in some primeval sense we are still connected to the sea. See what you learn from the Discovery Channel? Ha ha.

    GERALDINE – I haven’t read that particular book but I will Gooogle it to find out more. What a compliment to be compared to one of your favourites. You are far too kind to me. XX

    JASON – Absolutely. The writing at that time is so fresh, so pure. I would recommend it as a process for any writer.

    NAT – Ottawa does look gorgeous. Such inspiring scenery. I don’t know where seashell pale came from. One of the legacies of my writing group, I suspect. One of our members is a bit of a task master and gets us to do exercises where we have to describe colour and so on in different ways. It is actually really difficult but sometimes it makes you come up with a little gem like that. It’ll probably never happen again. Ha ha.

    HOLLYGL – if I can make you feel relaxed, I am thrilled. The sea is an old friend for me too. One of my dreams is to have a house by the water but with Sydney waterfront prices I might be dreaming for a while!

    WALKER – you won’t believe this – I had a dream about a belly dancer last night. It’s all your fault. Ha ha ha. I love your description – ‘mother nature’s cradle’; that is absolutely gorgeous!


  7. Hi Selma,

    As a writer and reader, you are probably well aware that in literature the sea is often used as a metaphor for life. With this in mind, I must say that this post with its descriptions of the soothing, gentle, calm sea read well, very well as a stand alone post. But it also juxtaposes finely with “Falling Down The Rabbit Hole” where you describe the stormy, turbulent time that your sister (and you and your mum are going through.) In fact it is because you shared such a tempestuous time with us that I find your current post to be powerful. We know that the sea (life) is not always soothing, gentle, and calm. But sometimes it is and we should enjoy it when it is.



  8. DAVID – you are incredibly insightful. Wow. I hadn’t thought of it like that but you’re right. I suppose that there is an inter-connectedness to our writing that isn’t immediately apparent. In some ways I write on quite a sensory level.It sort of flows, I don’t necessarily plan it in a logical sense. This is something to really think about. Thank you.

    PAISLEY – it is nice to just sit and breathe and absorb. I highly recommend it!


  9. Years ago I lived quite close to the sea and often would get all rugged up on a cold wintry day and walk for hours along the shore. Whether the waves were crashing on the rocks in fury or gently lapping at my feet, I always felt like I had been transported out of this world and into another realm. Funny thing is I only feel that way in winter when it’s quiet and deserted.


  10. I live by a major lake and when I’m away from it or don’t see a large body of water for a while I conciously miss it. Sometimes I miss the ocean as well. After a few years go by and I don’t see it I start to crave the sight. There is definitely something soothing about large bodies of water.


  11. GYPSY – the sea definitely has a magic all of its own in winter. It’s as if it his taking a breather from all the swimmers and holiday-makers who flock to it in summer. I love doing that too. I like to imagine I am in a scene from The Lord of The Rings or something as I walk. Only thing is, Aragorn never shows up. Ha ha.

    RWHACKMAN – absolutely. We need to settle our souls by water. I firmly believe that!


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