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Down to the Sea

The name on one of the boats in the Harbor captures the moment: “Play n’ Hookey.” That’s how it felt as I wandered around the small fishing village of Bodega Bay. Up on the hills, the rolling, brown, farmland stretches as far as you can see, with nothing but pasture land, and occasional cows. The songs of birds, the rhythmic foghorn and some hammering on wood are the only sounds to break the sweet silence. The sun is warm, in fact, hot, as the usual winds are absent this morning.

I walk among the streets, with the old houses tightly packed together, each with some unique expression of the owner…collected seadrift, California plants, and a cat on each block lazily watching me walk by.

As I look over to the bay, still as a lake, I keep asking myself, “What is this familiar feeling? What does it remind me of?” Some long lost memory of life in a remote village, near the sea, keeps welling up as I walk and breathe in the quiet atmosphere, the gentle ease of an uncomplicated life.

I climb down the hill to the harbor itself, and walk onto the dock of Porto Bodega marina. A few dozen artists rim the parking area, painting au pleine air. I muse that they are trying to capture in visual images what I try and capture in words. Simplicity. Nature. Water. Living by the Sea. What is it?

The water. It is so still, so alluring. I, who get seasick with the slightest breeze, feel my whole being yearn to be on a boat on that water right now. An old fishing boat slowly putt-putts across the bay, and I wonder why I’m not on it.

I know this is transient. Bodega is notorious for cold fog and wind. A bright, sunny, still morning is not the norm. But it signals a place I want to be in, a place where all will be well. I applaud my good choice to walk here this morning, instead of my habitual walk on the nearby beach.

Leaving the port, I pass another boat, this one named “Old Habits.” Perhaps in the end a morning like this is simply a reminder to break old habits, and be new each day, to capture the longing of the soul for life.

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