thoughts continue as you ponder your fate.
There were road signs ahead warning traffic to slow and be prepared to stop. Cones in the road caught his attention as the
road narrowed. He continued slowly until a construction worker holding a stop
sign stood in his way. Caleb hated
waiting behind other cars even though he knew they couldn’t proceed until
directed. The forest was spectacular but he didn’t want to look at trees. He
was close enough to the ocean that he should be able to smell the salt in the
air. He had fought the impulse to see
the ocean while he lived on the flatlands but now he was getting anxious to be
came down the road escorting a dozen cars.
The pickup pulled over, waited for the cars to pass and then turned
around. The waiting cars, including
Caleb’s, fell in line behind the pickup and headed towards the ocean.
followed them two miles before they were through the construction zone and back
on the two lane highway. He carefully stayed within the speed limit because
policemen were often waiting to grab impatient drivers and he didn’t want
anything to impede his relentless drive to the ocean
he was anxious to see the ocean again, Caleb was already feeling the need for companionship. Caleb wanted a woman to talk to, to listen
to, and to hold close. Oh, how he missed
in the flatlands reminded him of her.
All the little things that at the time seemed humorous, now took on new
significance. She had always seemed
surprised at seeing dew on roses, the first snowflakes, summer storms as they
rumbled in, and wheat fields waving. And always she stopped and admired newborn
animals with their protective mothers.
Caleb knew she wanted children, lots of them,
to love and to chase after. She dreamed
of teaching them her love of life, her respect for the earth. There was so much she wanted to show them. Right away she had wanted children but Caleb
had balked. “Not yet,” he insisted. “Not until we get this farm up and running.”
regretted saying that. His heart ached
when he thought of her. “There is
nothing left but memories. She’s gone
and my life is over.”
But even as
he thought of her, Caleb was ready to leave the memories behind. He wanted
something to drink, something to drive her out of his mind, at least for
After a few
miles the forest opened and a wide panorama of the ocean lay before him. The ocean stretched from side to side and was
breathtaking. Out in the ocean several
huge stone formations rose a few hundred feet into the air. The waves pounded and splashed against these
rocks before the waves regrouped and rushed to shore.
Caleb said softly. “I’m like that. Life
is always trying to destroy me. I must
be strong and stand like these rocks against the waves. I must remember to return during a storm to
see the waves crashing against these formations. It must be spectacular.”
along the coast until he found a motel that was close to the shore. He selected the last remaining room and was delighted
his room faced the sea. In the morning
at sunrise he had already decided he would walk along the beach and
mediate. Perhaps that would put him in a
more positive frame of mind.
The sun was
still up and it was too early to go to bed. He had been on the road since early
morning and he realized he was famished.
Since he was hungry as well as thirsty, he asked for directions to
several local taverns.
“The Gull’s Nest on the Cliff” was one of the
recommendations and he liked the sound of the name. The parking lot was crowded and inside it was
packed. A couple sitting at a table near the bar looked like they were getting
ready to leave so he quietly claimed their table. He told the waitress he was expecting someone. One person alone at a table was not
acceptable when groups were waiting.
He ordered a
spinach salad, clam chowder in a bread bowl, pan-seared halibut, and a beer on
tap. He ate slowly, relishing the fresh
fare. After his meal he ordered a drink,
whiskey this time. He was ready to start
blotting out memories.
drink arrived two women came in, and looked for two seats at the bar. Nothing was available so they stood by the
wall. Caleb motioned them over. “Ladies, please join me. I hate to drink alone.”
exchanged quick glances. And then one of
the women said, “We’d love to. We don’t
recognize you. Are you just passing
hesitate. “I’ve gone far to roam, but
the sea is my home.”
looked at him oddly as if he was crazy. “Sorry
about that. I like poetry and rhythms.” Before they could respond Caleb had already
pulled out two chairs, ordered two drinks, and had them seated. With a big grin he stated, “I’m Caleb, and I already like it here.”
It had been
so long since Caleb left. He remembered
driving through the woods, watching the mountains slip away in his rear mirror until
he was on flat land in a farming paradise.
The scenery was almost the same in every direction. There were no nearby mountains. There were a few trees and houses, just the
way he liked it. At least that’s what he thought at the time.
changed drastically. He endured several years of freezing cold and ice storms. He also endured springs and summers of
torrential downpours, floods, tornados, and sticky humidity. The weather was not a factor in his decision
to stay or go. Not yet.
The flatland was good for farming and it did
not wrap its tentacles around him like the sea did. The sounds and smells of the sea grabbed him
when he was young and made an impression. The rhythmic waves gently rocked him
to sleep. The beach and ocean became his playground. Later it was his mistress. And in the back of
his mind he knew that someday it would be his grave. The sea would wait patiently through his complete life cycle, from birth to death, expecting him to eventually return to the only
home he really understood.
As the years
dragged by, he grew increasingly lonely but he understood his need. The thing
missing in his life was a good woman, one who would pull him to her bosom and
give him a sense of security. The women who
lived by the sea and those on flatland were so different. Those by the coast
loved quicker, more fervently, because they understood their men would be
called by the sea and could get lost at sea.
Flatlanders usually chose farmers, men who would stay put, men who would
be content raising wheat, corn, and kids.
to the slower and richer style of loving and eventually he found a woman whose
heart was tender and made him feel loved.
They watched sunsets and dawns, made love passionately, and communicated
endlessly. Life was perfect and the world
rotated every day.
But one day his world stopped cold. A blizzard
hit while he was in town getting supplies. He struggled homeward but did not arrive until
early afternoon the next day. She didn’t
come out to greet him, and the house was cold.
frantically but to no avail. Friends joined in the search. She was found lying near the barn, her arms
wrapped around a frozen calf. Guilt
overwhelmed him. “That was my job,” he
thought, “getting all the animals inside.”
That thought tormented him more and more. As he withdrew into his shell his friends
stopped visiting. They wondered why he
was becoming inaccessible. He thought
they blamed him for his wife’s death.
The things he
liked about the sea were coming back to haunt him. Every night he could hear the relentless pounding
of the waves, see the pelicans dipping low as they flew between the swells. And that salty smell was there in his
room. The sea was calling him, urging
him to climb aboard a fishing boat and sail out of the harbor, away from the
safety of the shore.
I go?” he asked himself. The question remained, unanswered, frozen in the cold
air. But Immediately another question
rose.”Why should I stay?”
mind was made and he prepared to rid himself of the farm and its memories. He
sold what he could and gave away the rest.
There was nothing left for him there in the flatlands. Whenever he saw fields of wheat dancing with
the wind, he was reminded of ocean swells.
Whenever he saw a sunset or dawn, he wished he could see the sun hanging
just over the horizon with a ship sailing somewhere.
The sea was his mistress again and each day she
was calling, calling him back to where he belonged, back to her open arms. There were new adventures waiting, new
adventures that would help him forget the flatlands and teach him that love once
lost can sometimes be found again. His
will to live had suffered a blow. Now he
was willing to dare, to face danger, to love recklessly. Tomorrow he would set sail and he didn’t care