I’m your typical American mutt. Scots, Irish, English, Welsh and touch of either Dutch or German. When I Google dad’s last name, Heaton, I end up in Yorkshire, a coastal county in northwestern England. There were Viking settlements in Northern Ireland and the north west of England so there may be a touch of the Scandinavian in the mix too.
All of these countries have one thing in common, the people who live there are never very far from the sea. And, except for most of Ireland, Holland and much of Germany; if you aren’t dealing with the ocean, you’re trying to get over a mountain. That may explain why both sides of dad’s family didn’t waste any time getting from the east coast to the west coast. The same is true of mom’s grandparents. They came from Tennessee and Indiana. When it was time to light for good, they were in Oregon.
One of grandma Heaton’s ancestors was born in Vermont in the early 1800’s, the family was in Iowa by the time she was born in 1889 and she was in Oregon before dad was born in 1915. If there had been more land west of Oregon, I don’t think she’d have stopped until she reached the Pacific.
The sea longing is always there. A gossamer thread most of the time, but when I really stop to think about it, an ache that won’t go away.
We give the oceans names and think the naming gives us some sort of control. A name on a map. A barrier to be crossed in a cocoon of pressurized air. Or the support of a sea going city as we flee the familiar while surrounded by the familiar on the way to more of the same.
When it could be so much more if we could only remember. If we could only remember the time when
I was an olive tree, gnarled roots clinging to tide washed crags;
I was a gull, wind tossed in a North Sea gale;
I was a wave, a crashing rainbow on black cliffs;
I was a branch, left on a beach as the tide ebbed;
I was a grain of sand, cut from the cliffs by the wind;
I was the sun, lost in the mists;
I was a cloud, pushed inland to be caught snow by capped peaks;
I was a drop of rain; at home in a mountain stream;
I was the river; caught between two shores;
I was the sand bar; carved by the tides;
I was all these things and will be again.
So, here I am; between the fire mountains and quenching seas, Poseidon’s country if He ever wanted to relocate from the Mediterranean. You see one of Poseidon’s nicknames, maybe the oldest, is Earthshaker. I think He’d be right at home on one of Oregon or Washington’s basalt headlands. And He wouldn’t have to go far to get a decent glass of wine.