After Hurricane Irma passed into the Gulf, Hurricane Jose came out into the Atlantic and sat there and sat there. The ferries didn’t run for several days, which prevented me from getting off the island. My sister had come from Colorado and was staying in Moosup, Connecticut, which is our home town. Brother George was there too, having come from Virginia. I finally got off and we had a uproarious birthday party for Mary, the six of us together with our Mom, for the first time since our father died. Then Mary came back to Block Island with me and she stayed for several days.
We talked and cleaned out the attic and we hiked all over the island. We reconstructed memories going back for sixty years. And we swam in the ocean, with wind all around us and in water still churning from Hurricane Jose. We laughed and jumped and swam like we did long ago - like we hadn’t done together since we were children.
These pictures show what that water was like, off of Vaill beach and down below Mohegan Bluffs. (We swam in safer parts of the island.)
Then Mary went home and in a few days the water smoothed and settled. And yesterday, it came clear in the early morning, and the water was like moving glass. I love that about the ocean, how it is always changing, holding to nothing, moving to carry whatever is happening now.
Do you know how water got here? I mean, got here on this planet? This happens to be, in some circles, a hotly debated subject. The current story is that hydrogen came from the big bang and oxygen came from the insides of stars. Then those stars had to live out their whole lives and then had to supernova so that the oxygen could combine with the hydrogen to make water and that had to travel through space in comets and asteroids and hit our earth when it was in its formative years. There are many variations and theories about whether asteroids brought the water, or whether comets did it, or whether some of the water was in the cosmic dust that clumped together to form our planet, but let’s just agree that water has had quite a journey and that it is very old.
It is that water, that very same water, that was so beautiful just yesterday morning. And it is that water where a flock of ducks decided to play. Now, I know that they were playing. I watched them for an hour. They weren’t fishing. They weren’t resting. They weren’t flocking or poking each other. They were sitting right where the waves were breaking, and when the waves broke over their heads, they did exactly what my sister and I had done, they dove down through the water and came up on the other side.
All of this is wondrous to me, stupendous, and on top of that, it is wondrous to me that my mind, like water, can go from one thing to another, that I can be free that way, that I can choose how to think of anything. I can think that water is beautiful. I can think of how we played in the water as children and how we still can play. I can think a particular wave is full of ducks as this last one actually is, even though I can’t see them. I can think of the water itself - how it is an older brother/sister to everything we know; how it is more ancient and precious than diamonds; how it carries life for us; how it changes with every breath of wind or duck or child or passing cloud or ray of sun or moonlight, but how it also stays itself, impeccable, the same as it has done since before the sun was born.