Sunday, January 2, 2011

Water wait

Waiting.....


I went to the beach yesterday evening. As I arrived a man parked his bike, got into a wetsuit, put on red flippers and headed out towards the ship on the horizon line. I watched him. His strokes were even, rhythmic, and every third stroke or so a wave would hide him from view. At about five minutes in, he became indistinguishable from the sea. I waited. Fishermen arrived. Families picked up their beach umbrellas and left, couples came in from the water to cuddle on towels, a fish flew above the water; feeding time. Two hours later a flash of red appeared. He let a wave carry him onto the beach, took off his flippers, walked to his bike and got his towel. I went up to him. How far did you go? He smiled. Language is more than plosives and fricatives after all.

34 comments:

steven said...

i really appreciate this piece rachel. the very long moment of an experience. now i'd like the ocean to tell the story of his journey! steven

Kass said...

Smiles are great, but I still want to know how far he went...
...what is it I think I would do with this information?

I envy you your weather. It's hard to be patient for the sun.

Sounds like you had a very contemplative New Year celebration.

Dominic Rivron said...

Happy New Year!

Have you read Roger Deakin's Waterlog? (Apologies if we've had this conversation). There's a wonderful anecdote in it about a very old man who used regularly to swim at least a mile out to sea from his local beach. On one ocasion he startled a fishing boat, a mile out, by knocking on the side and asking the time!

Haven't had a swim for weeks. You've got me wanting to get out there and jump in.

Rachel Fenton said...

It was something special, Steven. I'm glad you got that feeling too. Thank you for taking the time to share it.

Rachel Fenton said...

Ha, exactly, Kass, but it did feel like a message.

Sometimes it's difficult to step out and think when you're caught up in the doing, isn't it, Kass? I'm trying to enjoy the moment without worrying about the conclusion. Thank you for reading, for all your insights and everything you've shared, Kass. And for being you.

Rachel Fenton said...

Thank you, Dominic - it rings a bell! Must trawl the comments...no, must get the book!

The sea this last few days has had me wanting to jumo in, Dominic, and I can't even swim!

Happy New year to you too!

joehebden said...

Don't think I could manage more than a short distance....

Have a positive 2011 !

Kass said...

Forgot to mention that I like the pun/double meaning in the title. I would like to think some of my weight is water.

Rachel Fenton said...

But you'd still be in the give it a go club, Joe! Thanks, I hope 2011 brings you much creativity.

Rachel Fenton said...

Ha, kass - I often wonder if anyone gets the titles - but what's the current scientific ratio of water to body mass? Aren't we about 80% h20? That makes us the equivalent of cucumbers with brains! Educated salad! See, you're low on calories - eat woman!

Titus said...

Wow! Just a perfect story that has left me thinking, and wondering, and thinking...

And what's going on over there? Where's your snow??

Rachel Fenton said...

Snow's in my header, JoAnne - look up! Happy New Year and thanks so much for reading and your lovely comments!

Kass said...

Cucumbers with brains.
Love it.

Did you know I took your profile picture, put it in Photoshop and lightened it so I could better see you? You're quite stunning.

Rachel Fenton said...

Ha! Regular single white female, Kass! A song for you:
I could be the lettuce to your cucumber

we could sing a jaunty little salad number

It wouldn't sound good but it would make us healthy

rich in friendship it would make us wealthy

Lalalalalalalalala! Lalalalalalalal!
All you need's a cucumber with brains!

(Reader supply own tune)!

You made me blush - that's my typical response to a compliment!

Yup, regular stunner me, human tasar - latter day medusa! Almost been run over a few times by people oggling at the wheel! Best if I just keep hidden - less distractions! Thanks, Kass, you made me smile.

Blasphemous Aesthete said...

If I get your philosophy right, I might ask you,
How far would you go?

But still, what was his answer apart from the smile.

Regards,
Blasphemous Aesthete

Golden West said...

Hi Rachel,

Always so great to stop by and catch up with you! I love the photograph - looking out at the sea always makes me feel free.

Yes, two year old boys have energy to spare!
Happy new year to you and looking forward to reading!

Penny said...

When you lead a life where there is always something demanding your attention, your presence or your input, it is very hard to imagine the complete disconect which must be experienced by heading off out to sea, alone, for two hours...How would I feel? Exhilarated? lonely? terrified? at peace? I don't know...and I think I need to. Thank you for the thoughts, Pennyx
PS Happy New Year!!

Rachel Fenton said...

Welcome, BA - thanks for flying in (British Airways, couldn't resist - forgive me). Often I go too far!


It's a true story - he just smiled. I could assume he didn't understand English but I don't like to assume anything, and besides, he understood - I think he was pleased and bashful. And modest.


Thanks for stopping over - (I hope you had a pleasant journey!)

Rachel Fenton said...

Thank you GW - having lived decidedly inland in the UK, I can't imagine living anywhere but by the ocean now. There's something supremely restful about just simply looking out to sea and letting the waves caxrry my thoughts for n hour or two.

Rachel Fenton said...

Happy New Year, Penny - thanks.
I thought the same things as I stood there - how hard it must have been to get to a point where he could make swimming so far look so easy; if there are sharks attracted by the fishermen's bait; if a jet ski zooms over - and then the calmness, his calmness, just kind of soaked in through my feet and...it's wonderful to watch someone doing the thing they look like they were born to do.

I hope you find a little space to be free in, Penny.

bluebird said...

coming to think of it, you might have given a new dimension to what could otherwise have been a routine weekend for him. when was the last time a stranger took the trouble to see you live your life?

Rachel Fenton said...

Hey bluebird, good to see you again. I hope his weekend was the richer for it, mine certainly was. Thanks - I hadn't thought of it that way.

Andrea said...

Lovely piece and happy new year if I didn't say so already!

Rachel Fenton said...

Thanks, Andrea - Happy New Year to you - thanks for reading and for all your support over the last year or two, I really appreciate you taking the time to read and comment!

Andrea said...

You know I always stop by and I know you do too!

Rachel Fenton said...

Wouldn't miss you!

patteran said...

This has the resonance and elegance of a zen koan.

Rachel Fenton said...

Many thanks, Dick - my mind's wide open right now.

Arjit Srivastava said...

You are lucky, honestly, that he was modest enough to smile, and was not an inglorious bastard!

Happy new year, anyway!

Rachel Fenton said...

Ha, Arjit, welcome - you made me laugh. I don't have a bastard detector so I just take people as I find them; he was lucky!

In the Netherlands people don't wish you Happy New Year after the 7th: in NZ they don't wish it at all! Ha! But I'm from Yorkshire so I'll wish you much inspiration and creative blogging for 2011. Thanks for stopping by.

Dave King said...

Superb. Good project.

Rachel Fenton said...

Thank you, Dave.

SY said...

you make such detailed observations
I love your blog... following you now
- SY

Rachel Fenton said...

Thanks for following, SY - enjoying your blog, too - you tell it well!