I took a trip with the kids out to the beach to make some sand castles this week. While the kids were playing in the sand, I took a moment to feel the ocean. There is something about the ocean that I just can’t get enough of. The smell of the salt water, the calming sound of the waves lapping up on the shore, the wind on your face, and the feel of the sand between your toes is like heaven to me. I feel connected when at the beach. It is a kind of faith knowing that there is something bigger out there.
My father being in the Coast Guard during my childhood probably had a huge influence in how I feel about the water. I grew up living on both coasts. When we lived in Huntington Beach, California you could ride you bike to the beach. We lived on Aquidneck Island in Rhode Island. This is the “island” in Rhode Island (it is the largest island in the state and where Newport is located). While living in Rhode Island, we saw water everyday. We also lived outside of Washington, DC during my middle school years. The ocean is about 3-4 hours from our Northern Virginia house but we would camp at Assateague Island each summer on the sand dunes. Summers during high school in Northern California always included beach days at Stinson Beach. And life was a beach while attending University of California San Diego.
While enjoying the beach last week, it occurred to me that most of my ancestors never lived near the ocean. I come from Middle America farmers. Most likely, the only ancestors who saw the ocean where those who traveled across it to reach the United States.
It was a WOW moment for me as I thought about the journeys they endured to get to the U.S. I wonder how they viewed the ocean? Was it just an obstacle for them to cross or was it an opportunity? Did they feel the same way about the water that I do? Did they get to spend much time outdoors when crossing the Atlantic or were they confined inside? How long was the trip from Europe to the United States? Time to do some more research!