I chased my 11-year-old brother down the beach, my three-year-old legs carrying me as quickly as they could. He was just out in front, looking back and laughing as I toddled along behind, my bare feet pounding on the wet sand. He splashed through a large puddle, water spraying up from behind his legs and I followed.
Salt water filled my mouth, I sputtered and coughed. My little hands sunk into the sand as I pushed myself back up into a standing position. Seawater and tears poured from my eyes blurring my vision. Through the haze I saw my brother’s arms reaching out to me. Comforted in his embrace he carried me back to our parents.
That is my earliest memory, my first memory of the ocean.
For me, the ocean brings both fascination and fear. As a child I loved watching nature shows. However, I had mixed feelings when it came to episodes regarding the sea. While some of its animals are amazing and beautiful, there are others that terrify me.
A trip to Myrtle Beach when I was 23 marked my second ocean experience. Every morning we would walk down the beach to see what the tide had left behind, most of the time it was red seaweed and jellyfish. In the afternoon we’d wade out waist deep into the water and body surf back to shore. It was fun, but to me, beachcombing was much more enjoyable.
Several years later, a trip to Mexico would bring me to the Pacific. My brother had a condo in Puerto Vallarta and his birthday gift to me was this amazing trip. I was excited except for one small detail; he was planning on taking me snorkeling.
By the time I arrived in Mexico I’d convinced myself snorkeling would be fun. I had even bought a throwaway underwater camera. Unfortunately, only my feet would touch the Pacific, the planned snorkeling trip cancelled due to poor visibility. The moment I heard, my shoulders relaxed, it turned out I wasn’t as mentally prepared as I thought.
My love of the ocean is still one I don’t quite understand, from its wondrous beauty to the sound of waves crashing on the shore. I am fascinated by the tragedy of shipwrecks and have visited the Titanic exhibit and the cemeteries in Nova Scotia. I have played in the warm waters of the Northumberland Straight with my children. My hands have held starfish and hermit crabs. I have experienced whale watching from a boat and seal watching from the beach. I have crossed the Northumberland Straight between Nova Scotia and PEI on a 75 minute ferry ride, and driven back over the 12.9 km bridge.
I am captivated by the history and majesty of lighthouses.
I have walked along shores, marveling at the multi-coloured stones, collecting beach glass and shells; always searching for tiny sea creatures or washed up treasure.
My eyes have witnessed the magnificence of an orange ball dipping below the horizon.
My draw is at arm’s length - waist deep. You will never catch me scuba diving or snorkeling. My fear of the ocean keeps it that way.