Salish Seasonings

How inappropriate to call this planet “Earth” when it is clearly “Ocean.” ― Arthur C. Clarke

Whenever & wherever you step into the ocean it’s always the same sea. There are names like Arctic, Pacific, Mediterranean but that is mostly convention. All are connected; one globe encircling body of water. There’s even an interesting map of Earth from the point of view of the fishes. Looks like a mirror copy of the Pangea renditions. Instead of a single massive continent surrounded by blue you see one contiguous central mandala mare necklaced by a rough oval ribbon of coastlines.

If you could tease out the salty drops you might find some that have been at times icecap, rain, wave, blood, sweat, & even tears. How long has it been on the planet? Last time I checked no one is sure if the water came here in comets or asteroids or the solar nebula. Does it have a memory? Can it recall all the forms it has taken & travels through the hydrological cycle? Or once returned to the world ocean does that individual lose itself in the embrace of the One?

I think they talk. The drops, the waters, the seas. That they remember. I met the Atlantic first, then Gulf of Mexico as a boy. For decades whenever I imagined the sea it was them I pictured. It wasn’t until I turned much older that I stepped barefoot into the Pacific in the very early spring of 2012. It felt like I was following the clues & directions, the tales whispered against my legs by the wave kisses along Florida & North Carolina.

All one ocean and yet again—not. When I finally made it to the Salish Sea, first to the San Juans, then a few years later further north up into the strait, the water that I encountered was a very different creature with her own very distinct and unique personality. Maybe a cousin to the waves off the beaches of childhood, but filled with seals & sea lions & overflown by eagles & ravens. The song she sings tells of the smol bays, deep fjord fingers, of First Nations peoples in their homes & ships sailed from distant ports. She is very much her own individual.

I know the Salish Sea recognizes & recalls me too. I remember one night walking out the flats left by the receding tide & trying to be light footed enough not to sink into the sucking sand. We reached the water & I greeted our little bay & thanked her for bringing me back. The winds picked up, cast saltwater spray in my face, the only part of me not in foul weather gear, & I swear I heard a laugh & watery voice say I was a good sport & welcome me back. I am grateful to know this bit of sea might be patient with me & I am determined to be a good guest in all the time I spend at the waters on the Left Edge of Turtle Island.

Cheers. More next week…