As the island of Barbados was unveiled by the pure-light of day, two tanned figures walked away from the transplanted shadows of a few well-placed royal palms, heading towards the shore. The young couple, he with blondish hair and an infant child in his arms and she, fairer but ruddily complected, her left arm stretched around both, crossed the newly smooth sand and the wispy grasses of the upper beach, the front yard of their moravian style cottage. Though neither could be accused of being materialists, this structurally simplistic, eye-pleasing edifice offered an unmistakable air of serenity and strength, the essence of life, which made them feel light, and at ease.
In this way they walked nearly every morning since a need to be closer to family and the desire to make a fresh start brought them to the island, a peaceable harbor in the storm of an American social climate fraught with a backlash of guilt and spiritual turmoil, the unwanted stepchildren of change. This morning ritual was made, not out of a sense of obligation or need, but because their daily pilgrimage was as natural to them as the involuntary beating of one’s heart and as inconsequentially essential as the taking of bread and water for one’s nourishment.
Sometimes they would speculate about or marvel at the sea and what lay beyond; what sights, scents or sounds might be beheld in distant lands such as Cyprus, Indonesia or Sri Lanka. They preferred to consider the warm lands of the world because, like their parents, they were drawn to the comfortable climes, places where life’s necessities could be kept to a minimum.
Their conversation came flowingly, with the ease of a mountain stream and would rise and fall like the ocean swells which appeared consistently on the shallow sand bars beyond the surf fishermen as they strung line and laid their nets in the ever-present sea. The two didn’t readily acknowledge the fishermen but only focused on them between thoughts, using their deliberate and precise movements like a musician makes use of a metronome, to keep time. They gazed intently at these energetic men as one might gaze at a flickering candle flame, in profound meditation.
On this particular day and within one of these particular moments, Olivia leaned forward and spoke deliberately:
“I can almost see the canoes and huts and the beautiful brown girls bathing in the sea. What must it have been like here four hundred years ago?”
As she spoke, the morning sun shot warm and piercing rays of light into the faces of the three, reflecting their light into the world. The shore began to grow humid, sultry and pleasantly heavy as the passive force of the sun encouraged the static air to gravitate skyward, toward a heavy, water-laden cumulus which would soon fall as a gentle summer rain, completing the necessary cycle which offers a watery infusion of life to the mountains, rivers, and the sea in front of them.
Morgan said nothing but instead pictured himself sitting there in the days before the colonists and traders. He saw himself as a young native boy preparing for a day of fishing or hunting. And then, his eyes at once fixed on the fisherman, his gaze rose above their heads and he became entranced by the sea.
It surged without crashing and seemed to breathe, pushing and pulling at the sugary sand just as gentle, knowing hands caress the skin, and this, coupled with the charming industry with which the fishermen went about their day, served to free the stream of conversation for several hours until it seemed, the rest of the world, or perhaps just the island, was waking up to the new day.
They came together this morning to “baptize” their new child in the sea, which was done with little ceremony except for the recitation of a few paraphrased lines from Dylan Thomas, and the addition of a request that the sea spirits take good care of their son Dylan August.
They sat down again, Dylan wiggling then settling in his mother’s arms to nurse.
“Have I told you about my great grandfather?”
“Tell me again.”
“He was a bicycle salesman, not a guy who sold bicycles but the guy who had what people needed like tools and things and he rode around the island on his bike selling stuff. He was born here in 1885…
And time cast forth his mortal creature
To drift or drown upon the seas
Acquainted with the salt adventure
Of tides that never touch the shores
He who is rich will be made the richer
By sipping at the vine of days.
– Dylan Thomas
About the author:
As the publisher of SALT magazine, a regional ocean sports magazine, Philip has gained something of a following in Southern California. He has also been published in Blue Edge magazine (which included an interview with Jack Johnson), The VC Reporter, The Surfer’s Path (UK), the Ojai Visitor’s guide, Fishing Stories magazine in Australia and others. Philip has worked in various fields including everything from carpentry to graphic design. He studied Comparative Literature at UC – Santa Cruz and has traveled extensively. His other writing projects include a sequel to Ticket to Ride that chronicles the life of Dylan Blake, the child of Morgan and Livy, now an adult trying to make sense of his own generation, and finding his own place within it.
Connect with Me: Lord.Greystoke77@gmail.com