Friday, September 23, 2005


Waiter, There’s Brine in My Nostrils!

What is this need for earthy stories that smell of sea and air? What of this craving for George Mackay Brown's tales and his simple childlike odes of sea and storm and soil that I should long to breath through these gills? All my life I’ve been arrested by the sea, by crustacians and sea nympths, by any of the sea creatures that call landlubbers to something more. Living in the land of the land-locked perhaps it’s natural to find the sea exotic, but still there is something plaintive in the calling of seals and of coastal Ireland in her far cliffs such that it’s possible the stray dangle of an obscure strand of DNA resolves it -- Somehow, somewhere down the ancestral line the sea got imbedded into my soul though no scientist has found evidence such. Somewhere, somehow the scent of salt-water and the welter of waves issued into me. I was surrounded by fishermen as a youth and I was oblivious, like the Baptized who is surrounded by God but is unawares.


Oh the beauty of the fall! The script, in cursive, above the neighbor’s door details their address and is both wonderfully anachronistic and artistically offputting. A spectral porch light beckons, or beacons, and makes their backyard look like an empty high school football field and I feel the dew, wet and cold against my soles, already present and accounted for just after midnight. And oh do I ache for the scent of brine in my nostrils and to hear the sea roar!

• • • • •

Hey, funny, we just went to the beach a couple of weeks ago, but we also wanted to go to Ohio (and maybe Pittsburgh.) We wanted the kids to get to see the ocean and play in the sand before the season was over, and I just missed the beach, so we decided to postpone Ohio which can wait longer. But not too long, I guess.

I grew up about ... oh, I don't know, 15 minutes' drive? from the ocean, but that was in NYC, so it's not like we were very aware of being a "beach town" when there's all that other stuff going on. I hardly ever went. Wish I'd appreciated it more, being at least 3 hours or so in any direction from the ocean. I really miss some things about more truly coastal life. Island-in-the-Atlantic life, really.

I'd actually thought about e-mailing and asking if you knew any beachy lakes in Ohio, but probably not near you -- we're thinking the Steubenville area and I get the impression you're in some city with a C somewhere. Not sure. Anyway, now we're thinking some Bob Evans festival in another part of the state.

Sorry I'm not too good at commenting in the true spirit of the post.
Yep you're right about a city with a "C", in this case Columbus. It's about 2 1/2 hours to Steubenville. There is a beachy lake near us, Alum Creek, just east of Columbus. I don't know of any close to Steubenville but there might be, I'm not familiar with that area of Ohio. Of course if you come to Columbus let me know!
That's the city with the C of which I was thinking, but wasn't sure you'd want it typed out on your blog. (The kind of privacy bloggers desire is so varied.)

It looks like the Bob Evans festival in Rio Grande, Ohio, is still about 2 hours from Columbus proper. The festival may be a pipe dream anyway -- maybe next year. But what I thought was funny was that you were dreaming of the sea, and I've got this desire to see places like Columbus and Cleveland and Pittsburgh and Anytown, Ohio (yes I realize Pitt. is in PA even though everything else I named is in Ohio.) Landlocked middle America, big cities that don't attract many young adults with stars in their eyes, real "town" life is just so fascinating, mainly because it's unfamiliar. I think this is like when I was younger and lived in Brooklyn and thought of WASPs were sort of an exotic ethnic group.
That is hilarious RO - that part about WASPs I mean as an exotic ethnic group. I know exactly what you mean. I think part of my fascination with the Puritan settlers is they seem so different. And now and again I get a hankering to visit the Appalachians in Southeast Ohio because I'm white collar and they're blue collar.
I'm guessing that big cities even in Exotically Bland Ohio probably have a decent "ethnic" (maybe more German in some places? I'm clueless) Catholic population. Descendants of factory working immigrants or something. Oh boy, am I drowning in stereotypes.

I'm fascinated with Southern Maryland. I go once a week for a voice lesson now and it's like a little vacation to Middle America in the DC suburbs to me. Actually it really is the suburbs, and may have more crime than I realize, but there do seem to be more Southern-like people and as you get deeper into that region the churches seem to be more of the not-so-self-conscious, not necessarily liberal or "evangelical, Bible-believing, but reaching out to our culture," but just plain old believing Protestant kind if you know what I mean. But there's a strong Catholic streak, including in the ownership of a family farm we love to go to a little closer to the city, and a Carmel further out. We have a cookbook from the Carmel sold at the farm with a very neat illustration of nuns on the front and a great fried rice recipe. I'm totally rambling now, but I guess the point is I want to see more places with a sense of place and townsfolk and stuff instead of just a lot of Targets and $475,000 split foyer homes on a quarter acre in less fashionable neighborhoods.
Note: My knowledge of Southern Maryland comes largely from driving around its northern parts thinking perhaps overly romantic thoughts about how it seems to differ from where I live. Who knows what people actually think or do inside the churches? Large chunks of salt required. It's still pretty expensive there. I've been to LaPlata once and didn't exactly see all the sights.
Yeah, Ohio has many small towns which you'll find the savor of the salt of difference. There are Amish to the northeast, and it doesn't get more pleasingly different than them. Cincinnati is very German, as is the German Village in Columbus. Ohio has remarkable diversity for being...Ohio! haha.
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