Wednesday, October 22, 2014
I hear the rain before I see it, this dark October morning, a week or so before my world converts again to Day Light savings, and I feel the rain before I hear it, a heaviness on my chest that stirs me out of sleep and my usual dreams of the deep sea. Like John Lennon, I am the son of a sailor – though it may be the only thing we have in common. I am also the grandson of a boat builder and so feel the tides rise and fall inside of me, sensing the change of seasons just before they arrive.
Drenching rain like this at this time of year always marks the real shift from the lingering warmth to the edge of bitter cold, a harsh fact of life I have come to accept if not quite welcome, since I need one to realize how special the other is, the cold to make me understand the tenderness of warmth.
And yet, my best moments near the sea do not come with bright sun and intense heat, but with the moody gray of heavy clouds and the lonely cry of seagulls bemoaning the change, as they begin their long search for food.
This is midweek, and so I will not see the sea for several days, yet already know a chill air will greet me, if not gray skies.
I ache to walk near the edge of the water, risking the cold kiss of the waves as they consume the sand near my feet – and like Madam Marie, trying to predict which one will come closest and if I will have time to escape the hissing touch of the water when it comes.
Here in the real world, everything is slick, the headlights illuminating dull pavement so that the streets do look as if paved with gold, wet now, but destined in a short time to grow slicker with ice, a risky proposition in a place where people do not handle adversity well.
In the dark of early morning, I feel the madness of the planet, and see people who have given up all civility in order to get somewhere ahead of everyone else, even if it isn’t worth getting there. The radio newscasters report collisions and crashes now instead of mere accidents, because they have ceased to be accidents at all, but the careless aftermath of careless acts of careless people I have to steer around, and like with the waves, predict how close they will come before making contact.
We are all invisible in the dark, shadowy shapes hutched over steering wheels, peering out into the dimness ahead, trying to get some place safely. I keep thinking of my father, who sailed through an atomic cloud as a seaman, and later died of cancer – and wonder if there was a connection, and if he felt the same sense of being lost as I do on mornings like this – and the same sense of impending change.
The attacks on Sept. 11, 2001 came in stark sunlight with extremely blue skies, and so I have come to dread sunlight, knowing that disaster can strike even when I can see for miles and miles the way I could that day. Perhaps it is because we assume we are safe when we can see all, and make no similar assumptions on dark mornings like this, when we are overly cautious and thus manage somehow managing to avoid being hit by the waves – the instincts of a son of a sailor more acute in foul weather, when the chill of the air gives warning.