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My Ocean

My island is surrounded by the Pacific Ocean. I’m a Pacific Islander, but my island isn’t surrounded by warm tropical waters.
The waves that roll onto my shores are steely, slate-coloured, deep and dark blue, grey and green. They are fringed with white and salty.

Our waves are cold, bone-chilling even in the summer months. They roll in endlessly, falling over each other in the race to crash upon the craggy rocks, the boulders and even some sand. They splash over the walled walk on top of the cliffs, spraying icy saline over sidewalks, vehicles and unsuspecting pedestrians. They stretch from the island to the mainland of both Canada and the US, depending on which side of the island you’re on.

The ocean calls to all the residents – the salt-tipped wind whips back hair and reddens cheeks, noses and ears with chill. The lighthouse at the end of the breakwater is a peaceful spot for many. The siren song is loud here, permeating the air we breathe, the light we see, the rain that falls on our roofs and streets. The salt-air spoils us for other climates, we can’t survive in the arid climes of any interior lands.

Beaches roll along for miles, from one edge of the island’s point to the other. Cliffs bravely face the ocean, covered in scrub, brush and driftwood. The shore is uneven and beautiful. Blue-grey and black rocks stretch out into the water, scattered along the foreshore; smaller rocks roll along the shore, a unique and wonderful sound; a swishing along the sandy stretches. Driftwood gathers and piles along the shore, marking the high tides of winter.

This is the ocean that soothes me.
This is the ocean that I know and love.
This is the ocean I call home.

These waves roll from one end of the earth to the other and back again. How ever the ocean waters may change from the Pacific to the Atlantic and Indian oceans, these waters will always calm my soul. These frigid waters will always delight me in the heat of late August and these waters will create the breath-taking backdrop of my little world.

The Smell of the City

I live in a beautiful city on a breath-taking island in the Pacific Ocean. The downtown harbour is almost visible from my fourth floor balcony.

The climate is temperate, sub-Mediterranean  and we live in a rainforest, but it’s not a tropical one. The local ecosystem is one of the most endangered, and we have many parks and greenspaces to frolic and play in.

I hate the smell of my city.

I walked out of my apartment building this evening and took a big breath of fresh air.

It smelled like exhaust, grit, dead leaves and asphalt.

This smell has a sense of disillusionment, of lost dreams and hopes and of harder times to come. The smell of my city isn’t a pleasant one.

Give me the smell of my home – wood smoke, wet grass, big ol’ smelly dogs, the smell of horse fields and fresh wind. The highway beside my childhood home never left a lingering smell of exhaust, and the noise was a comfort to fall asleep to.

Give me the smell of a Scout Camp – fresh air, the smell of dripping coniferous trees, damp grasses and thriving mosses. The smell of friendship and a well-meaning snowball down the back of your shirt. The smell of my sleeping bag in my tent. Let my olfactory sensors take delight in the crisp air, filling my lungs with a sense of well-being and security.

Give me the smell of the ocean, salty and one I miss.  Living in saturated air, I can no longer smell the ocean unless I’ve been away from it for far too long. But I like to go to the ocean’s edge and let the wind whip my hair back and redden my cheeks.  Let me dive into the too-salty water and swim against the waves.

The smell of the city reminds me of what I’ve lost. The smell of the land calls to me.
I hear you, land. I will return.