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Archive for February 25th, 2008

Steven Spielberg pretty much ruined the sea for me … a fact I have brought up with him on more than one occasion, and one for which he is not nearly as regretful as he should be … so I was more than thrilled when today I showed Sam the dorsal fin of a baby shark a friend had found at our neighborhood beach and saw his only reaction was a deep sadness.

I have long resented my gut response to all things shark-like, the involuntary dread that creeps over me as I snorkel in water with a tinge of mirk, a hint of looming possibility. That these amazing creatures bring out the worst in knee-jerk horror is a disappointment in my nature.

The knowledge, however, that I’ve not passed that along to my son gives me cause to rejoice.

Growing up as he has in the tide pools and shallows of the Indian Ocean where it touches this island is a gift Mark and I are grateful to give. Even with the inherent risks that come with island living, with the sea so close, so strong, so potentially deadly, our kids, like their father, have a relationship with it I can only dream of.

At five, Sam already has those velcro-like feet that allow him to jump from rock to rock without slipping and the balance to stand in a pirogue in choppy water. He learned the hard way not to jump in bait-filled water, as a graze with a stone fish was painful enough without serious consequence, thankfully … and the stay in hospital served to reinforce the lesson … and catching macabale in the lamar is as easy for him as it was for Mark when he was a boy.

Yes, it’s the right combination of joy and respect that he’s built, and at the same time the ocean feels like his vast and interesting playground he understands its power and the total disregard it has for life in any form.

Mark grew up with the sea at his doorstep. I did not, so didn’t learn the language it clearly speaks or to read the waves, and I still need a translator even after years of patient tutelage. Because of this handicap I can’t fully love it, as I tend to doubt its intent even on those days when it seems the Indian Ocean is as calm as a pond from here to Kenya.

Although I worry every time the kids are anywhere near the sea, I am pleased they don’t, and happy that the most basic of basics of island living … being surrounded by water … makes them happy.

So, although we have an abundance of Spielberg movies on DVD, “Jaws” will not be added to the collection. When it comes to his classics, we’re sticking with Indiana Jones since Sam’s not likely to develop an irrational fear of devil-worshipping nazis that could put a crimp in his Saturdays at Grandma’s.

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