A Boy’s First Sight Of Sea

As he approached the promontory, he wasn’t expectant. He was distracted by two of his favourite things-granddad and balloons. (“Boons! Boons! Purple boons, blue ones!”) His £1 fishing net may have been a give away, but he clutched it possessively without seeming to understand what it signified.

His older sister, of adventurous spirit, never hesitant or unsure, raced on ahead, disappearing from view as she mounted the steps then descended the other side. As James clumsily made his way up, I got ahead of him, determined to be in a position to see his reaction on first sight.

Using his granddad’s hand for support, he reached the top, tottered slightly, then looked in front. Those bright blue eyes of his, made even bluer in reflecting back the summer sky, widened, fixing firmly on the distant horizon.

“Wow!!!”

Such a simple, short word, but the way he uttered it, the way he drew it out, held such greater significance, and made my heart leap in a shared acknowledgement. He turned his head slowly from side to side, scanning the whole panorama. Taking it all in. You could see it, he lost all sense of scale, and from that first momentary shock, the great expanse created in him the impulse to run.

And run he did. In wild abandon, all thoughts of balloons and fishing net discarded. He ran over the sand towards the sea, still some distance away, then veered this way and that, giggling as he moved, until finally, breathless, his little legs faltered and he came to a stop.

Then he became The Castle Rascal.

His sister Millie employed use of her bucket and spade to build a sandcastle, decorating it with a single seashell on top. But as she moved to build another one, he was in like a shot. Kicking it over and doing a celebratory, in-your-face-sister jig. “Nur-nur!”

“James!! she shouted angrily, but he already had his sights on her next castle, and she quickly headed him off, defending it ably like a knight of old.

He turned his face towards the sea, and was lost again. A moth caught in the thrall of the flame.

He set off towards the approaching tide, intent on acting upon its open invitation. Occasionally he would flinch as the shadow of overhead gulls skimmed across the sand towards him, seemingly to snatch him up, but he continued on. I stayed where I was, with his mother and his sister, watching the two figures of him and his granddad become receding, diminishing points. Allowing the moment to become a shared bonding of two different but connected generations.

If ever I lose my sense of wonder about this world, if ever my awe falters and I begin to take it for granted, the surefire remedy is to view it through the eyes of my delighted children.

The gulls cried overhead.

I helped my wife search for shells to be the crowning glory of my daughter’s new castles.

2013-05-31 13.19.49

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20 thoughts on “A Boy’s First Sight Of Sea

  1. That was lovely. A wonderfully vivid description of this magical time. Thanks for posting that. I doubt that you’ll lose your sense of wonder. Not when you can share such joy with us!

    I remember the first time I saw the ocean–the Atlantic actually. I was 21. We have a lake here at home, but the immensity of an ocean dwarfs that. I walked along the beach with my mouth open. So huge. I felt so small. And I don’t know what it is about a beach, but it’s like you said. All you want to do is run, as if you could somehow reach the horizon.

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    • I am amazed you didn’t see the ocean until you was that age. Although I know compared to my country yours is vast. In Britain we are never too far from the nearest ocean. Living on an island as we do.
      And yes, beneath the sky, beside the sea, I feel diminished.
      Thank you for your comments.

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      • Sadly, we don’t often get to either of the coasts. I live in the Midwest. California is a nearly five-hour plane ride away. The East coast is a bit closer, but still a long car ride away. When I was a kid, our vacations were spent visiting relatives in the South or Midwest. When I was a teen, my parents decided to branch out and see more of the country. I didn’t travel outside of the country until I graduated from college.

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  2. I intended to comment on your post, but your line in a previous response “beneath the sky, beside the sea, I feel diminished” was entirely, pleasantly, distracting. At times there is a lyrical quality to comments and I must confess I am endeared by these discoveries.

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    • Sometimes I comment on other people’s blogs, sometimes a merely off the cuff phrase or so, and then when I re-read it find it captures my imagination and inspires another, future post.
      Thank you for taking the time to read my post and comment.

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    • I know-that should be a memorable one! It’s my three girls that fill me with fear though. Probably because of my insight into boys.
      Just checked out your brief bio- making things better in your little corner of the world is great. That is what we all should do. Then what a world we would have. Where I could let my daughters out and I could blog in peace. Best wishes to you from oop Norf.

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  3. Reblogged this on City Jackdaw and commented:

    In regard to my post this morning about it being my son James’ birthday and about him being about to start school, I reblog this now in his honour about another first in his life.

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  4. Oh, children! Their ‘wow’ moments are at times even more jaw-dropping for the adults surrounding them. We don’t get many of those ‘wow’ moments as adults, not as easily as kids do. But then again I guess it’s all a matter of perspective. We’ve become so spoiled with exciting and breathtaking experiences on an almost daily basis, we demand more in order for our jaws to drop.
    Anyhow, your writing is beautiful. You will have to show this to James when he’s a bit older and see if he recalls the day. 🙂

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    • I will do. In a way this blog serves as a twenty first century diary which maybe he will visit himself in the future.
      And thank you, here’s to hopefully many more jaw-drops! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Andy, I don’t know what I did but my unusually clumsy fingers seem to have deleted your comment on my latest pic. Just wanted to say thanks, and yes it was a delicious (deli -bought) tomato soup, With unusual moon crater resemblance 😉

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      • Those damn Cumberland sausage fingers 🙂 I’m sure somewhere along the line, we must share DNA. How you doing, Sis?

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