I love the water, but as a Midwesterner, the ocean holds a special fascination because we don’t have one. Granted, the Great Lakes are big enough and fierce enough in bad weather to give the feeling of the ocean and the same waves of motion sickness wash over on me on rough water, salty or fresh. But there’s just something about the ocean that launches my imagination into overdrive.
First there are the tides. We visited friends one summer who live on a Pacific coast inlet. When we arrived we were oceanside. The next morning the water was gone and the boats all sat in the sand awaiting high tide to float them again. This was a freaky, Stephen King-like experience for a “lake person.”
The wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald aside, the ocean simply carries a bigger cargo of tales, from Moby Dick to Captains Courageous to The Perfect Storm and about a zillion classic novels in between. Gloucester, Mass., a real fishing town north of Boston, offers one of the best places to hang out and absorb a heavy dose of the maritime atmosphere that makes those stories come to life. You’ll get a double dose if you attend the Gloucester Schooner Festival this weekend.
Finally, few things are more pleasurable than being sea-side, dozing intermittently, lulled by the warmth of the sun, a view of the ocean, the sound of the surf, and the coconutty smell of sunscreen on your skin. I just read a post from a blog I follow, Jenn’s Bookselves, in which she writes about how much the venue in which we read a novel, can affect our
feelings and reading experience. I nominate surfside as one of the best places to read, though it’s important to do so with books that give your brain a chance to relax along with the rest of your body. So raise your pina colada and your copy of anything by Carl Hiassen. Here’s to beach reading.