Monday, February 11, 2013


Our family tree is mostly boringly British. There’s some Scots Irish. A little Welsh way back in the day. There’s one whole branch from dad’s family that’s Pennsylvania German. But, beyond that we are boringly British. When I Google dad’s last name, Heaton, I end up in Yorkshire, a coastal county in northwestern England. And there were Viking settlements in Northern Ireland and the north west of England so there’s a touch of the Scandinavian in the mix too. Mom’s family is much the same mix. Without the Germans.
 Scandinavia, highland Scotland, parts of England, the Welsh mountains, these countries have one thing in common, the people who live there are never very far from the sea. Maximum in England. About one hundred fifty miles. And Hadrian’s Wall is less than eighty miles long. 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 none of the branches of the family didn’t waste any time getting from the east coast to the west coast.
One of grandma Heaton’s ancestors was born in Vermont in the early 1800’s. His wife represents the branch of  the family that came in from Germany in the early 1700’s. They were 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.
 For me 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 snow covered evergreen, gnarled roots clinging to the cliffs of an icy fjord;
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.

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