Friday, June 19, 2009

story of 2 stones


Even though RI is known as the Ocean State public beaches are few and mostly found in areas sheltered from the full might of the Atlantic. Swimming had been a passion for me ever since I'd first taken to the little lake in front of our house in Ontario and realized I floated when I relaxed. After that it was a simple matter to learn different strokes for propelling myself through the water.

I heard of a beach in Westerly, RI far to the south of Providence and decided to check it out one Sunday afternoon. It was after 3:00 when I arrived, most of the people who'd been there earlier were either gone or leaving, so there was no trouble finding a spot for my car. Even before I climbed the white dune where the ocean breeze made wave like patterns in the sparse stalks of yellowing grass, I heard the sound of surf. It drew me on until I stood at the top spellbound by the sight that met my eyes. The grey green of the sea sparkled under a sunny blue sky, waves and white caps broke in endless succession against the bare sand.

Dropping my bag of towels and snacks, as well as my shorts and top, I walked down to the water's edge just to test how cold it might be. Not too bad. Seductive yet treacherous, the sea encouraged me to step a little further, get in a little deeper and, just as I was getting used to being wet above my knees, a giant wave that hadn't been there a moment before swept over me. I'd been sucked in, didn't know what end was up or down, all I knew was to hold my breath and trust I'd still float once it was done with me. When I surfaced I found myself far from shore and realized it had been twenty years since the days when I was a strong swimmer. I could see the beach and tiny looking stilted houses behind the dunes but no people whatever. Yet there was something that calmed my initial urge to panic and as the waves billowed I felt myself supported and held in loving embrace. I floated in a sunny green medium that was the essence of life itself.

After a period, I don't know how long, I swam in extended diagonals back to shore and sat on the sand while the sun dried me and my heartbeat harmonized with the sea. Near at hand I noticed two small egg shaped stones, they were smooth, crystalline white and appeared to be almost identical - as though they'd traveled through endless eons always together in order to meet me at that moment in time. It seemed they had a destination in their stony little minds and I was to be their means of travel. When I left I took them with me.

For years they sat in the little depression on the dashboard of my car until the day when I first saw the Pacific. We'd found a vast and empty stretch of sand facing the western ocean with a misty headland in the distance as the only break of land between us and the horizon. I took the stones and walked down past the tide-line where the water kissed the shore and left them there. That had been my job for this lifetime, moving two stones from one ocean to another. Since then I've been free.

25 comments:

  1. I loved your story! Did you really get sucked out to sea?? Wow, you felt calm, even though you knew you were alone? Those of us that have learned the secret of floating know they will always be okay if we can just flip over and rest. It is so reassuring! I've tried to teach my daughters never to panic. Just rest and then swim.

    Great post.

    ReplyDelete
  2. This is everything a good story should be. What a satisfying ending, too.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Fabulous story, both of the swim and the stones taken from ocean to ocean.

    I've been slowly dipping into your archives, savouring a story a day or so, enjoying the drawings too!

    ReplyDelete
  4. "That had been my job for this lifetime, moving two stones from one ocean to another. Since then I've been free."
    What a lovely image. I love that our missions might be so small and so significant. Beautiful, Susan.
    I wonder if someone had the job of moving two stones form the Pacific to the Atlantic. I certainly hope so.

    ReplyDelete
  5. lol - Yes, it really happened but once my head was above water I never forgot to breathe. It's a good lesson to teach your children.

    utah - A compliment like that from you means a lot to me.

    marja-leena - Thank you. I'm happy you've been enjoying the other stories as each and every one has been a delight to draw and share.

    belette - I'm sure somehow that happened too. Maybe even walking from one place to another with something stuck on our shoe is the performance of a duty we're never even aware of.

    ReplyDelete
  6. that's a sweet story, susan.
    (relaxing in the water has never been easy for me. and i'm a pisces)
    and further more, maybe it was the destiny of the two rocks to see you safely to the pacific. they perhaps fulfilled their destiny too.
    life must be sublime when you don't expect anything.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I hope you didn't anger the Esoteric Order of Dagon by removing those stones. ;-)

    Very groovy story.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Two identical stones. Are you a Gemini?

    ReplyDelete
  9. sera - You may be right about the destiny of the two stones seeing me safely here. Perhaps it was a mutual favor.

    scarlet - It was begging to be written. You know how that goes.

    randal - It was Westerly, RI not Innsmouth, MA but I take your meaning.

    pagan - Not quite :-)

    ReplyDelete
  10. A great story, Susan. I will try to remember to relax next time I'm in the water. I think it will help me.

    :)

    ReplyDelete
  11. I loved this story. But it reminded me of a Saturday Night Live sketch from back in the day. Steve Martin was playing a preacher/priest trying a woman for practicing witchcraft. He tells her to dive into the lake, and tells the crowd (and paraphrase), "If she drowns, the water has accepted her and she is not guilty. If she floats, the water has rejected her and therefore must be burned at the stake." He then launched into a soliloquy about human rights, fair trials and democracy, pauses for a second, then says "nah!"

    ReplyDelete
  12. Beautiful... the ending brings a big inhale. What a blessing to be free.

    ... and there's that beautiful oil painting on your last post of floating in the sea. I can't tell if they're having fun or feeling tossed. Reminds me of a poem by Stevie Smith with a line that goes, "I wasn't waving but drowning..."

    ReplyDelete
  13. the crow - Salt water is extra bouyant so that helped too - and being able to still see the shore :-)

    spartacus - Good one. A couple of hundred years ago I'd never have made it out of Salem alive.

    rene - I love that painting by Michael Sowa. It looks to me as though they're having fun.

    ReplyDelete
  14. What an amazing story. I love your unique approach to things. I don't care what they might have done to you in Salem.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Shoot! I forgot to mention that I love the way you drew the illustrations, too.

    ReplyDelete
  16. lisa - Yeah, you didn't have to be a witch to get done in for witchery back then. I'm delighted you liked the drawing :-)

    ReplyDelete
  17. Wonderful! And those stones may represent two lovely humans who seem to have traded the Atlantic for the Pacific...

    ReplyDelete
  18. gary - Kudos to you for coming up with a metaphor so obvious but never noticed :-)

    ReplyDelete
  19. This is wonderful!!! The idea that our lives are about something as huge, simple, seemingly meaningless, and yet pregnant with significance = and that when we realize it all, then we are free... it made me laugh with joy. It struck all the right notes and made that chord I love to hear in my heart.

    On my desk at work is an entire drift of stones and shells (they take up nearly half my desk) from nearly everywhere I've ever been. They are all mingling there, like the jumble of memories and pictures in my mind. It's my microworld, my minilife, where I can put my hands on it, and rearrange it in patterns that seem as significant and meaningless as any real event, or real juxtaposition.

    Thanks for this story.

    ReplyDelete
  20. steve - I think my own life has been much about learning to deal with just a few very strong attachments. It wasn't until that day I gained the deep understanding that we are all attached at levels we can barely grasp but which are unbreakable.

    Your trove of shells and stones sounds both familiar and fine.

    ReplyDelete
  21. came by for my bedtime story, after working on the first ReStore report for our AGM. this is lovely.... adventure, peaceful resolution, philosophy and the sea. many of my favorite things. thanks so much. bon nuit (or however that's spelled)

    ReplyDelete
  22. gfid - This one sat at the back of my mind for a while waiting for the right drawings. Then one day I just did it and it worked out fine. The story and lesson are both true no matter the illustrations. I'm very happy you enjoyed it :-)

    ReplyDelete
  23. You know, those two stones are never going to find there way home again. ;o)

    ReplyDelete
  24. Dropping by via Jams (The Poor Mouth), I dived into your story.
    To cut a long com(pli)ment short: Chapeau!

    ReplyDelete