Our East Coast Ocean Fascination

I just returned from a wonderful week in Lewes, Delaware vacationing with my family. As soon as my toes hit the sand, I heard the rhythmic crash of waves, felt the warmth of the sun as it caressed my skin, and smelled the salt water, a peace settled over me. I took a deep breath and slowly exhaled, feeling all my worries and stress just melt away. It was just like coming home.
Perhaps the reason it feels so comforting is the precious memories collected over the years. The ferry rides from Lewes to Cape May, always on the lookout for dolphins, the kids believing they were mighty fishermen as they caught sand sharks at midnight, the wide-eyed wonder as we read ghost stories about the pirates that once roamed these shorelines by flashlight, exploring the fascinating, underwater treasures at the shipwreck museum in Fenwick, finding that perfect Whelk shell at low tide, catching the perfect wave, capturing that quintessential lighthouse sunset picture at Cape Henlopen State Park, or even waking up to find that your tent is now partially submerged in water due to last night’s rain. Collectively, they all weave together and create a beautiful tapestry of priceless memories, that in the end, draw us closer to those we love.
Often, I have walked the shoreline looking out over the expansive, seemingly endless body of water, scanning to find the end on the horizon. It is in those moments that I begin to understand the draw many mariners and fishermen have experienced over the centuries. That inexplicable wrenching of their souls to be at one with the sea. Even when the ocean turns tumultuous and angry as a storm is brewing, there is an unparalleled, captivating beauty. Such force and power can leave the watcher awestruck, unable to look away. It is a great reminder of just how very small we are in this great big universe, becoming an equalizer of sorts.
The ocean has always held a certain allure and mystery for those who appreciate it. The Greeks had their mythical Siren, an ocean dwelling creature that was half bird and half woman. The Assyrians believed in a beautiful fertility goddess who became a mermaid after casting herself into the waters. Many sailors have believed in, and feared these beings throughout history, one of the most famous being Christopher Columbus. It makes one wonder, how many other unknown mysteries are hidden beneath those waters, still unexplored?
Whatever it is that draws us back, the pull is powerful and strong. Perchance it could be because the sea is very much like our lives. It is sometimes very inviting, calm, and serene, but other times inhospitable, tempestuous, and unpredictable, but in the end, forever beautiful.
To quote Jacques Cousteau, the famous ocean explorer, “The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever.” Rhonda S. Kelley, Executive Director, Juniata River Valley Chamber of Commerce