Many Miles to a Favorite Place

Today’s morning sun broke the horizon over the Great Marsh  just after 6:30, and if you gazed at the slowly rising red disc through the tree branches just so, you could see the rays splinter into longer shafts of tiny light. This was the day to make the trek from the North Shore through Boston to Woods Hole, home to “ The Oceanographic,” which, along with the Marine Biological Lab, draws walkers, sightseers, scientists, engineers and many sea-loving folk.

Breezy it was in the afternoon, with small chop on whitecaps coming into the harbor near the large ship Atlantis. Earlier in the day I’d been privileged to see containers of sea cores, test tubes of rocky debris and very large rocks lifted from the hydrothermal vents on the ocean floor. Think of the scalding lava rising through the Ridge, only to be slapped with all that dark, cold water. We know more about the Moon than the oceans that surround us. They are vast.

I can’t say the scenery en route to this village is compelling; trees, yes, but the landscape offers a kind of scrub look and feel. Perhaps it’s just as well various roads thread through this, leading you down, down to the Bourne Bridge and over to the Cape,  and in view, finally, of one of the Islands. And when the day’s work is done, and the car-train-bus-bus—-bus-mad dash to the other bus-mad dash to the train and make it by two minutes-train-car trip is complete, one can recall that lovely view, and resolve to spend more time, next time, getting to the gift shop.

But as full as this day was, it offered something more to ponder. The current book in the backpack, Terry Brooks’ Lessons from a Writing Life, includes this statement: “Progress occurs not because we remain satisfied with what is, but because we hunger for what might be.”  I’m not sure why upon reading this I  was compelled to pull out the laptop and cap off the day with a blog posting; perhaps because this could serve as the mantra over all the marine science I saw today.  We make progress in science precisely because we long to take a next step, in our minds, in the lab, on a ship, in the field. Yes: we hunger for what might be. I’m so glad my professional life plays a small part in these quests.

Sometimes the magic works is the subtitle of this insightful book on writing as craft, as passion, as a way of life. Today I return home having seen the sun rise, the ocean roar, and my imagination refilled and stocked again. I think Mr. Brooks would be pleased.

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