Beyond Words: The Call of the Ocean

“If the ocean can calm itself, so can you.  We are both salt water mixed with air.” 
~Nayyirah Waheed


On a recent post, I wrote about a recent trip to California, and my love of the ocean.  As promised, I am continuing the story about my visit to the ocean, and a bit of the history of why I love it so much.

I was raised at the shore….the Jersey shore of the late 1950s, early 1960s.  Being born in Philadelphia, going to the shore was routine in summer.  My earliest memories are when I was 4 years old.  On the drive to the shore, we would ask incessantly, ‘are we there yet.’  And my father would say just smell the air….you’ll know when we are close.  Oh, that salty air was so pronounced as we neared the Atlantic Ocean.

And once there, I was repeatedly warned not to leave my parents and rush onto the beach.  Of course with 4 little ones in tow, it was impossible to watch us all, and get the beach chairs and umbrella set up.  So in my headstrong way, I never listened and rushed right to the water’s edge.  But I always looked back to where our umbrella was, so I knew how to find my way back. 

At the water’s edge, I watched the waves and played without venturing into the water.  I knew better as I couldn’t swim yet.  And I gathered shells.  It was the gathering of the shells and the lure of the waves, that led me to wander the beach a bit.  And when I looked back…uh oh, the beach was packed with umbrellas and ours was a faint memory.  But I never panicked, I just kept playing and wandering.

Of course I never knew I had wandered so far away, and that my parents were looking for me….as was the Shore Patrol.  I was one of those lost children you wonder about.  And usually if I discovered I was lost, I would find the nice Shore Patrol people, and they would eventually get me back to my parents.  

When I was a bit older, we would visit my grandparents in their little trailer in St. Petersburg, Florida.  One summer we rented a house on the Gulf of Mexico.  And that summer I discovered a different ocean of sorts…..different waves where the sun didn’t rise on the beach, as we were facing west.  I would rise early, walk out of our door onto the beach, and sit there letting the waves wash over me as the tide came in.  Such peace…bliss.

Fast forward to 1989, when I finally went on a trip to California.  I had never been to California, nor had I ever been to the Pacific Ocean.  For some reason, I longed to visit this ocean.  And so it was then, on this trip, that I found my ocean home.  It was a rough introduction.  I almost drowned body surfing as I was caught in an undertow.  But even that experience did not deter my love for this ocean.  

So now when I go to California, I make a point of visiting my watery home, even if only for a short time.


The closest beach to where we were visiting was, The Strand.  This was the mosaic walk at the park which sits high above the beach.  I was warned that I would have to climb down 200 stairs to get to the beach, but I wasn’t going to let that deter me. 



From the walk, there are magnificent views, places to sit and beautiful containers of flowers.  Not to mention more mosaics in the sidewalk.



As we headed down you could see the houses near the beach.  There were still a few spots where new houses were being built.  



And they weren’t kidding when they said there were 200 steps, not to mention several long ramps.  As we wound our way down, the views were more and more spectacular.



And then there it was….the sand waiting to cradle my feet, and the waves to kiss my skin.  I couldn’t get my sandals off fast enough.  The air was a balmy 90 degrees, and the roar of the ocean called me to come closer.



It was a windy day so the surfers were out.



I enjoyed capturing a few of them in action.



I have always wanted to surf, but with age and a deadly fear of sharks, especially at these beaches, I have given up that dream.



For this trip I was happy to allow my feet to be pulled into the sand by the tide….I love that feeling.  I had to be wary of the waves, though, as they were getting bigger, and I didn’t want to damage my camera.  But there was one wave….yes that one above… that I was snapping a picture of that hit me by surprise.  I was soaked from the waist down and I didn’t care….I just laughed and laughed as if I was 4 years old again. 



We only stayed a short while.  And we walked along the lower sidewalk that ran along the back yards of the houses on the beach.  I loved this one with its architecture, garden, views and infinity pool.  



And as we climbed back up those inclines and 200 steps, I just felt so happy.  I had to take breaks as stairs are not a favorite thing for my knees.  But I just didn’t care, as I was still in my dreamland.  This was one of the last views I took before we left.  Later that evening I was a bit stiff, but found my body was none the worse for wear after doing all that climbing.  It must have been all the walking I had done of late.



I will not forget my visit to this beautiful spot.  It transported me back to all those childhood memories of the ocean….the smells, the sounds, the sights and the feel.  Oh yes, the feel of the sand and salt water again…experiencing this miraculous place through the eyes, no the senses, of my inner child.


Do you have a spot you love to visit that takes you back to your childhood?


A piece of my Christmas cactus recently fell off with a bud attached.  I wanted to save it to start another plant so I put it in a vase of water.  I thought it would make a lovely picture to have the blooming cactus in the background.



This Christmas cactus was a gift from my mother-in-law so many years ago.  She had it in her house for years.  And this year it has bloomed every month since November.  Not tons of blooms, but enough to enjoy every month this winter, five months so far.  It is indeed special for so many reasons.


I am joining [email protected]Rambling in the Garden for her wonderful In A Vase on Monday meme. The pictures shared here were created with my iPod Touch camera and two free apps, Pixlr and Prisma.

I am posting poetry, almost weekly on Sundays, on my other blog, Living From Happiness.  You can read my latest poem here.

All original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Gardens Eye View, 2010-2018.  Any reprints or use of content or photos is by permission only.

28 Replies to “Beyond Words: The Call of the Ocean”

  1. Both your sweet vase and this trip to the ocean are a sweet connection to your past. The beach always reminds me of early childhood memories of visiting relatives in Connecticut and walking along the Atlantic. Our family moved to the west coast when I was six but we’d still go back to visit relatives occasionally.

    1. Thank you Peter. You have a way of getting to the human connection of my posts. We have similar favorite memories. Lovely!

  2. The beach has a special hold, doesn’t it? Your cactus makes a nice vase. I had one for many years passed along by a special relative.

    1. Indeed Susie the beach is special….and it is amazing what simple little things can find their way into a vase! You inspire me to look….

  3. I enjoyed hearing about your ocean experiences. Here in the UK there is a big difference between the sea on the east and west coasts – one year we went directly from my parents in the west to my ex husband’s parents in the east and the difference in water temperatures was so pronounced. I like your vase with the mother plant behind it – will this little snippet root, do you think? By the way, it was PIXLR that I downloaded

    1. Amazing how different the coasts can be, and here even north and south coasts along the same east and west shores are vastly different.

      As for the cactus sprig, I should put it in soil soon and it will root in soil according to what I have read. Pixlr is great as you can edit and then add overlays, stylize and add frames….so much in it, I play and play for hours.

  4. I too grew up near the beach, on the East Coast, we had a very short drive to get to the beach though, only one town away. I enjoyed reading your lovely story of your visit to California. One strange thing about us moving to the West Coast, it has messed up our sense of direction. The ocean all my life has always been to the east, now it’s to the west, but my mind still thinks of it as being to the east, even though it’s a different ocean.

  5. Any place that brings you back in contact with your 4-year old self is to be treasured, Donna. I’ve limited memories of that period but I do recall puttering around with my father as he worked in the garden. He died in an accident when I was 6 but those memories stuck with me even as the garden itself fell apart after he passed away. I think my love of gardening was born then, even if it wasn’t cultivated (pardon the pun) until decades later.

  6. Hi Donna, thanks for sharing those precious and very touching memories. I had to smile when I read that you too as kids were pestering your parents with the question “are we there yet”. Gosh, we were the same! Your water colour pics complement the text perfectly . Yes, there are places I’mfond of but there so far away…maybe some day. Best wishes x

    1. Thank you so much Annette. It is wonderful you too have lovely memories. I am pleased you enjoyed my memories.

  7. Oh yes, Donna! I understand completely! My favourite place ever is the east coast of England, also with cliffs and many many steps down to the beaches. The impatience of getting there, teh smell of the salty sea air, the breeze and the views, and then that tug of the sand as the waves rush over my toes… you have captured it so well! 🙂

    1. Oh that sounds wonderful Cathy….I hope maybe to visit that shoreline too in England….it sounds like heaven to me. I am so pleased you enjoyed the post!

  8. There is something about sea air. We’re half an hour from the sea. Easily near enough to go for a long walk on the spur of the moment. Often it’s bracing, nowhere near as warm as California, but I do still love it!

  9. Oh, I hear you! I was just thinking today about how I think of Lake Michigan as “home,” since I’ve lived near it all my life. I know it’s not the same as the ocean, but somehow it’s just as nice–especially in the summertime. Yes, walking a beach feels like “home.” 🙂

  10. The lake brings back memories for me Donna… of the cottage my grandfather built and the family vacations we would have there. I love the lake. I am new to the ocean and here, well, the ocean is a bit different from the crowded beaches but that’s what I love about it. Glad you have such rich memories!

    1. I prefer the uncrowded beaches too…where one can commune with the ocean or the lake even… have such lovely memories, old and new now Kathy!

  11. Nice pics and memories. I like walking on the beach, especially when the weather is cool and there are no crowds, but I don’t really like going into the ocean.

  12. I enjoyed visiting California with you in this posting, Donna. When I visit England, a walk across the Hednesford Hills near my old home takes me right back to my childhood with the smell of heather and bilberries. Of course, visits to the ocean are always a joy. P. x

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