Father had another simple straightforward statement about the ocean, the only valid one I have ever heard. “The ocean,” he said, “doesn’t care.”
This is all you know about the ocean, and all you need to know. Over the seventy-odd years of my life I have seen the wisdom of this statement many times. I have seen powerful swimmers washed ashore dead in an apparently pacific ocean; I have seen infants carried out to sea by a frothing riptide only to be cast back by a succeeding breaker. I have seen a whale crushed by its own weight on a receding tide, and I have seen a strange and wonderful white mare ride a breaker from straight out to sea – we watched her from among other whitecaps on a wind-tossed autumn day, a mile or so offshore, until she breasted the last wave and galloped off down the beach. I knew then and I know now that she came from Tahiti; I’ve seen her in Gauguin’s paintings.