Posted by Kerry McFall, October 19, 2021
For the first time in my life, I actually live at the beach. I can see the edge of the world glimmering in the sunset – here there be dragons, here there be green flashes, here there be oil spills… I can hear the surf crashing, feel the fence shake at the edge of the cliff, smell the salt (and the sea lion poop…) It’s breathtaking, joyous, and melancholy by turns. One moment I’m mesmerized by lightning arcing across the waves, then aghast at tourists approaching seals, heartbroken at the sight of a sea lion bleeding from a shark bite the size of a dinner plate, then delighted at the beauty of the glimmering waves, laughing at a child’s excitement of water lapping little ankles.
For the first time ever, I begin to understand the appeal of being on a ship, the siren call of an ocean cruise. The urge to explore beyond that edge almost makes sense, even to the point that I wanted to congratulate ‘Captain Kirk’ on daring to fly into space. I hate how much money is being invested by rich boneheads taking flight, and yet the human thirst for knowledge and experience is so compelling…
Earlier this month, there was a word prompt from the Inktober challenge: vessel. Boaty Mc Boatface popped into my head, and came out of my pens and brushes:
A bit silly, but fun, and the research into a bit of ocean science was fascinating. (Go ahead – Google it! It’s a good trip down the rabbit hole.)
This last week, my husband was asked to research the possible value of an antique bookend, so the bookend lived on our table for several days. Another vesseI! This one made me think of Viking ships, with a dragon-looking prow.. or was it a hawk? I was drawn to the subtle colors of the brass or copper or whatever the metal was, and the appeal of the title engraved onto the back, “Invincible Armada”, so it became the latest page of my sketchbook. It was fun trying to capture the glow of the afternoon sun reflecting off the sails, and even some of the colors from the flowers in a nearby vase made their way onto the curling surf.
Whether in the water or in the sky, the thirst for exploration drives us. But if Christopher Columbus, and others like him, taught us anything, it should be to proceed with caution and compassion, to acknowledge who and what came before us. That human need to explore has unforeseen impacts far into the future – we are not the only living creatures, but this planet may be our only refuge. Ever.