I grew up near the ocean, I have lived by the ocean, I sometimes visit the ocean and I often whine because I don’t live by the ocean (for now).
But actually I’m one of the lucky ones…I often forget that there are some people in the United States who have never even SEEN the ocean. And there are those who have never even had the OPPORTUNITY to go see the ocean.
Recently, a group of young students from the Jedediah Smith Elementary School in Sacramento went on a field trip to the Marin Headlands. For many, if not all, of those children who particpated, this was their first time seeing the great Pacific.
And it’s like, yes, I’ve wondered about folks in the Midwest…do many of them go for whole lifetimes never seeing the ocean? Is it just corn fields and rivers and snow for eternity? Because everyone in California has seen the ocean, right? I mean, like, it’s CALIFORNIA by golly — the Golden State….
But, alas, no, not everyone here has seen it.
Sacramento is about as landlocked as a city can get, except for two muddy rivers and a manmade lake. But the seaside is within driving distance…for those of us who have cars or other access to transportation. The kids at Jed Smith School (grades K to 6) do not have many of the privileges that so many of the rest of us often take for granted.
The children at Jed Smith thanked the sponsors of their trip with letters of gratitude. And to read those letters was not only a reminder of my love for the ocean and all the experiences that I have had along its glorious shores, but it was also an opportunity to “see” the ocean again with new eyes and a new heart.
Here is what one of the students wrote:
“My field trip at the Marin Headlands was awesome. The ocean was very beautiful at night. It was bright as the plankton in the sand. Also, hiking up hills was very fun. [Note: Sacramento is as flat as a pancake.] It was an adventure climbing up Hill 88. In addition, we went to a marine lab at the Headlands. I saw sea stars, hermet crabs, and cool clams. Lastly, there were a lot of ancient tales that our leader told us about the stars and astronomy. They were interesting stories to learn about. Truly, my fieldtrip is something I’ll never forget….”
The trip was an ADVENTURE for this little girl! And she expressed her joy so vividly! It was almost like being there! (Well, not quite….)
No matter whatever else has gone on in my life, the ocean has ALWAYS been an adventure. And this girl’s letter reminds me that there are still many more adventures to come. The ocean is still out there…and if this dear child could get there, well, so can I.
©February 2011 by Phyllis J. Hanniver
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