Beautiful the sea is…
Probably my favorite time of the day is the time I spend at the sea. When I look at the sea, when I walk by the sea when I am in the sea…
One of the many magical things that happen at sea with your board and paddle is that you never encounter the same conditions even when you sail in the same area every time. It’s never the same sea. You will never encounter the same wave, it will never blow in the same direction or with the same force, the current will never have the same direction, the paddle will never be put in at the same angle, you will never pull with the same force, your eyes will be distracted by different stimuli, the smells will be different every time. If you add to the above the variability of the light, the different boats and the different positions they have each time, the different seabirds that change hunting grounds, and even the foam fish that sometimes drive you crazy with their games and sometimes disappear completely, I think you realize that the countless combinations of the above parameters can create an endless variety of scenery. And an endless variety of emotions.
These emotions act like a highlighter pen that emphasizes certain aspects of experiences to make them memorable.
When the conditions don’t allow it, when the cold is penetrating or the wind and the rain star in the “Meteo” of the day, I can’t resist my addiction to the sea and go down to the small marina of the city for a calm walk. I enjoy the smells, the boats, and yachts tied up in the safety of the harbor, the captains doing their silences…I take my puff too… I recharge my batteries. One of the things that disgusts me is the boats I see in the trailers, left on the dock, huddled almost like decommissioned boats. The image puts me off. The boat is meant to be at sea. Go get it out to be serviced or put it through moorings. But in the dock on the trailer? The boat is meant to be at sea. So is the captain.
“What are you looking at, man?” interrupted a gentleman in his 70s. Of medium build, with a wrinkle-ridden face, a white unkempt beard, dressed in a distinctive yellow nichrome over a heavy knitted, age-worn, dirty sweater. In his pinkish hands, he held a bucket with a green sponge in it and a low cane to help him stand a little better.
“I see them as a bunch of overwintering babies,” I replied with a smile.
“It’s the people that overwinter, not the boats. The boats are for being in the water; it rains snow. That’s where their home is. But what are you waiting for? Three-month captains, most of them. Sofa sailors. “He shook his head, some half-syllables rather like curses coming out of his mouth as he turned his back, gave me a nod, and motioned to the boats tied to the dock.
There were few words, and many elements of extra-verbal communication, however, that intrigued me. I was walking around anyway. I sat on a bench and set about watching him.
He reached over and put his things on the ground. He was standing in front of a wooden fishing boat about 20 feet away. Open basically, with a small canopy that hid the engine almost in the center of the deck, with two wooden paddles tied to the side, ending in a square stern with a wooden bench and a bunny rabbit hole to steer. Traditional hull. Well maintained, freshly painted, and looked clean. Its ropes were draped and leaning against the reeds ready for use. A lifebuoy was tied next to the cockpit and a small net was the only thing that gave a hint of clutter as it lay lying on the floor of the boat.
He leaned over and pulled the ropes that tied the boat with extra care, bringing it slowly and carefully toward the dock. Just as soon as the bow reached the dock, he reached out and stopped the wooden hull barely an inch from the concrete. She wriggled her ropes to keep the boat close and, carefully touching the bucket to the deck, with a small and careful leap she was aboard.
I watched him for about fifteen minutes, where with almost excessive reverence, after filling his bucket with sea water, he went over almost every inch of her with his sponge… Almost as if he were stroking her. When he was done, he sat on the stern bench with his back to the pier and his eyes towards the harbor exit. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a frame with an old photograph and placed it across from him. He opened a drum and took out a beer which he deftly opened with a knife. He lit a cigarette, leaned back, and made to water the net left at his feet.
An hour later, and much calmer and with a much more serene look, he let the boat pull away from the concrete of the pier, reefing its stern. He made to leave, but before he had gone two or three yards he turned to the wooden boat and smiled. As if she were waving at it and promising to see it again the next day. ..
I asked …And I found out… The captain is a retired banker. Fishing has been his favorite daily pastime for almost all his years. A habit that filled him and he shared with his beloved wife for over 25 years. In the last five years, his life has changed. He lost his wife and along with her his companionship. As if that wasn’t enough, an arthroplasty limited his mobility and reduced his confidence, pinning him to the shore.
Nevertheless, he has never taken the boat out of the water except for the bare necessities. Every day, at almost the same time he almost obsessively repeats the same routine. Sometimes with a beer in his hand, sometimes with a hot Greek coffee that he makes on the boat with his gas stove, he sits and gazes out over the sea, reminiscing about years gone by. He always carries with him a frame with a picture of his lady, which he puts across from him and chats with her for hours. And the name of the boat… “Nostalgia”!
Nostalgia… Our refuge when the present we live in disappoints us and we seek a shelter to hide from the monotony and loneliness of our routine.
Nostalgia… Perhaps a sign that helps us understand that the life we have lived has meaning and value.
Nostalgia…A sign that helps us to be confident and motivated to face the challenges of the future.
Nostalgia… Perhaps the gateway to our own utopia. A land where life is so free, where there are only beginnings and starts and never ends… A land where the scenery is sculpted by our dreams alone. A land where the only reason to cry is from laughter…
Nostalgia… Perhaps a necessary, evolutionary coping mechanism for dealing with reality.
Nostalgia… ( homecoming and pain )… As long as you know where or who your home is… As long as you know which is the port you have to return to…
Lucky the one who is there, where his thoughts are!
“The sea is beautiful, for it is always moving… and if you’ve found many shores, none of them can hold you back. Tip me a song with the band… The sea is beautiful because it looks like you” (Manos Xydous)