by Ken McAlpine
Welcome to our new weekly blog about the joys of travel and life. For the two are one. Travel, like life, is about making the most of our moments, for we only have so many. With that in mind, another moment together. Thank you for coming along for the ride…
The Solace of Waters
If you love the water, you understand. If you don’t, I don’t have enough space to explain it to you. Perhaps you love the mountains instead. You don’t have to explain it to me. I understand mountains might be the same.
Once, at the edge of the small town of Darien, Georgia, I stood beside the Altamaha River. It was a silent, droning morning. Tendrils of mist rose from the mudflats at the river’s edge, and invisible creatures made concentric circles on the river’s mirror surface.
It is an interesting place, Darien, Georgia. Once, Darien was a port of great consequence. Huge mills sawed forest into a seemingly endless supply of lumber, which was taken downriver to the Atlantic by timber schooners. On Darien’s waterfront wharves, workers loaded equally heaping supplies of plantation rice and sea island cotton, their shouts and beehive clamor ringing across the water.
Now Darien hummed silent. Just the impassive river, and three shrimp boats resting against the river bank. The name of the nearest boat – Blessed Assurance – was visible across the stern.
Maybe Darien’s passing is sad, maybe it isn’t. This is a matter of personal opinion. But one thing we all know. Life is anything but assured.
A bleak thought, yes. But standing beside the Altamaha it wasn’t darkness I felt. No. Every time I look upon water, I feel a surge of optimism and hope. Ocean, lake, or river, their prairie spread always leaves me feeling both inconsequential and reassured. Towns, cultures, individual lives and fortunes will flare and fall, but the waters remain, their backdrop of comforting sameness trumpeting continuity and, with that continuity, hope. Like children, we need something to believe in, a face that will always be there, an anchor we can always return to, and when we can’t return, our children can, and their children too.
I understand that mountains might be the same.
But it’s water I turn to.
Ken McAlpine has traveled the world as a writer, from the depths of Palau to the heights of the Andes, but no matter where he goes, he can’t wait to come home to Ventura. We hope his stories remind you of why you love the place you call home, and this gift called life. For more info, please go to www.kenmcalpine.com.
Top image by Sienna Streamfellow provided by Channel Islands Adventure Company.