I can see the sea from my new studio.
Cue delighted laughter.
To get to the sea, I hike down through state park dunes, clocking lizards, buzzards, and bunnies on the way. Sometimes humans on horses pass me, or the ranger on his ATV. Most of the time I’m the solitary human, looking at fuchsia sand verbena, dunedelions (like dandelions, but in sand), sage, and chamise. Chaparral country. Many times it’s foggy here, so I don’t see the sea until I’m almost upon it.
My studio window faces west, so, barring fog, I can catch the sunset every night.
Cue delighted laughter again.
“We’ve got whales!” says my landlady, “Elizabeth, we’ve got whales!”
Sure enough, I spot several spouts mid-way to the horizon.
In case you’re becoming too jealous, there are also rattlesnakes, poison oak, and unexploded ordnance leftover from the 1940’s when the army used the land for training.
But my downstairs neighbor plays the trumpet well, another neighbor surfs, and of course there are the horses: Sunny, Shadow, Cisco, Kady, Magic, Jetson.
Last night my riding teacher was “under the weather,” so our lesson was canceled.
Cue disappointed, catastrophic thinking. I’ll never ride again!
I chopped up carrots anyway, and took them down to the stable. Sunny gets most of them, but I treat the others on the way to and fro his paddock. I’m especially enamored of Shadow, a gorgeous cream and chocolate Paint.
“Barbara’s sick,” I tell Sunny, “no play today.” He’s a good listener, even after the carrots are history. I brush his coat and mane, then say good-night.
Three years ago, I left Olympia and drove straight to the ocean. I was dying of toxic mold exposure, and could barely breathe. My liver was inflamed, my kidneys were stressed. I left everything behind, even the stuffed dog that belonged to my (dead) brother. The only thought that made any sense in my be-fogged brain was ocean ocean ocean. Ocean ocean ocean. I don’t want to die inland. I need the ocean ocean ocean. Please god, help me get to the Ocean.
I sang and chanted in the car, as best I could, making a mantra of ocean ocean ocean. I made it to the Pacific, 75 miles away.
“The cure for anything is saltwater: sweat, tears, or the sea,” wrote Isak Dinesen.
She is correct.
After three years of living as close to the ocean as I can get, even if that means the car, I can breathe. My lungs, liver, kidneys, skin, brain, heart — all systems are go.
And so I do. Into the H2O. The Ocean. The Healer. Home.