In praise of the sea

[For a while, I was a regular contributor to a blog for a resort on Martha’s Vineyard. In order to save some time – and in the spirit of recycling – please accept this repurposed post from that blog.]


The ocean is a marvelous place. It is literally a place of marvels. People travel from deep in the interior sections of a continent just to spend a few days in its proximity. As they near it, their hearts – if not their voices – resonate with that of William Clark who cried at his first sight of the Pacific, “Ocian in view! O! The joy!” We are willing to spend a massive premium for the privilege of an ocean vista, disregarding the dangers it poses.

DSCN0194It only takes a few minutes at the beach to realize that there is more to it than sand and water. Peter Kreeft, prolific author and professor of philosophy at Boston College, has caught this vision. He says that by God’s design, “the ocean is a perfect toy: always there, always willing to play with you, just dangerous enough to be exciting, never needing replacement, unbreakable, never boring, and you don’t even have to put it away when you’re finished playing with it. Watch how little kids treat it; they know what it’s for.”

DSCN0192Indeed, no one seems to appreciate the beach like a child. The little girl has no need of a “beach book” or a radio to pass the time. Her younger brother isn’t concerned with making a fashion statement or getting the perfect tan. The sand, shells, waves, sun, and breeze all provide more than enough distraction for the most innocent among us. And if they have the proper tools, who knows what imaginative creations they may construct in the sand?

DSCN0191My preferred portion of coastline is on Martha’s Vineyard. In spite of its often overbearing crowds, South Beach is where I head for my ocean fix. The power of the surf there is humbling, more than once leaving me tumbling in its foamy aftermath. The shoreline goes on almost to the vanishing point in either direction. One can stroll its shifting sands in peace for hours.

DSCN0190You never know what wonder you will encounter along that stretch of shoreline. There is a seemingly endless variety of birds to watch – some skittering in the shallow surf, some repeatedly diving headlong into the waves foraging for a meal. While lacking an abundance of shells, there are yet some prizes to be found for the diligent. Patience and a keen eye may also reward you with a rare seal or dolphin sighting.

DSCN0186Those who lug their laptops, cell phones and iPods to the beach will have their reward, I suppose. I prefer to follow the lead of the little ones. When it comes to the ocean, they know the magic it holds better than “adults”.

As if we needed more evidence

I was going to skip another week in this blog. Novel number two is occupying my time and mind lately. It’s hard to tear myself away from the story and its characters. I like spending time with them.

But I saw something last night that stirred up the creative juices. (Disgusting pun intended.)

As if we needed more evidence beyond a Trump candidacy that America’s depravity has hit a low from which it may never recover, last night I saw the most obscene commercial I’ve ever watched. It was for a product by turns called “GlowBowl”, “BowlLight”, or my personal favorite, “IllumiBowl”. That last one sounds like some sort of bizarre superhero. It lights up your toilet at night so you aren’t, as the commercials put it, blinded when you turn on the bathroom light.

You’ve probably heard of this beast by now, but it just came to my attention. Upon seeing it, I was at a loss as to how to respond. Laughter was my first reaction. Is this a joke? You know you’ve lived too long when you can’t tell a real commercial from an SNL lampoon. Can the Love Toilet be far behind?

Upon further consideration, I’m pissed. (Pun once again intended.) Can there be any doubt that Americans have too much money? Everyone (especially talking heads on Fox News) want us to believe our economy is in a shambles, yet we have money to spend on such dreck? Has no one heard of the $2 nightlight??

What can we expect from a nation that uses what the rest of the world calls drinking water to flush its toilets? In a world where 40% of its people have no access to modern sanitary facilities, we’re spending money that could be used to save the lives of some of the 1.5 million children who die from diarrhea every year to light up our johns.

I’ve had it. Back to something that at least resembles reality: my novel.