Monday, February 20, 2012

At Sea with the Humpbacks

"Exultation is the going of an inland soul to sea..." or so says that sober-silent friend of ours, Emily Dickinson. And when one is asked to play chaperone to a group of children hungry for the sea and the salt spray and adventure, one must say a definite yes. 

And so that was that. A boat, a multitude of bright blues, and the purest air ever breathed at noontime. And this for our front yard, this I would be happy to call my welcome mat:

The boat, a catamaran with sails, was laid with a tight trampoline in the bow. Here is where the children - and eventually a circle of youth-renewed women whose more cautious children went below decks to become dry - balanced, their hands grasping the ropes, their faces forward with wind-pressed smiles, their feet swinging free into the salt-air with every swell of the sea.

And if that wasn't enough, there were the whales, the humpbacks, who rose and fell, dipping themselves into the air like toddlers dipping their feet into a pool. Like icebergs, these whales show only a fraction of themselves above the surface, yet we know that their giant bodies are there at home under the waves. They spout their fish-eaten breath into the air and sink back down, only to wave a fingertip fin at all us spectators, only to gradually raise a fingerprint tail gracefully as they dive.

I soon discovered that whales are more photo-shy than even I am. And to catch on film a breach, a whale lifting itself completely out of the water, is to near the impossible. So I gave myself up to mental photography, taking with my eyes the pictures of humpbacks side-by-side, of the baby whale learning to jump, of pectorals and dorsals and flukes stretched at the sky.

I will not lie, for my heart was heavy that day. I crept often to the bow of the boat, inching as close as I could to the sea - if only to touch with my toes the liquid air of home - only to be called back again by the crew. Silly of them, really. As close as I wanted to be, I would not have fallen in. And if I had? It is but the sea, this straining, striving, struggling mass of energy that our very lives are balanced on. It is just like our every day, this life, this sea. We are afloat for today, rising and falling on the hourly swells. We do not drown. Not now.


  1. looks like a fantastic your photos!

  2. Oh my gosh Rose how exciting!!! I LOVE whales and would love to see a site such as this. Beautiful photos and descriptions. To be so close to the sea is where I long to be.
    Thank you for sharing.

  3. What a wonderful adventure... to experience the sea like that! The colors alone convey the feeling..., crisp blue, white... and red.

  4. Are you the Rose West from England, married to Fred West?

    1. No, I'm not, there's no connection whatever - the fact that I have the same name is simply coincidence.


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