By Gus Fitch
It’s four in the morning two days before Christmas. The sound of the surf at low tide is making its way into the great room through the slightly open sliding glass door here in Topsail Beach, NC. The repetitive sounds of the surf pounding the sand is a narcotic and suppresses almost all my efforts to concentrate.
Our rented house is right next door to a solitary pier that stretches its aging timbers into the black Atlantic Ocean. The empty pier, lighted for fishermen who embrace this kind of solitude, looks unbelievably lonely and foreboding.
Were it not for the roiling surf making its signature sound combined with the reflections of the pier’s lights off of the water, you might as well be looking into the heart of a Black Hole. The ocean and the sky, absent all forms of visible light, merge into a oneness that disorients and depresses. Perhaps human vertigo feeds on the anachronism of unknown shapes.
I know when the sun begins it repetitious rise from below the now invisible horizon, I will be perplexed again with my failure to be able to draw a word picture of the countless images of light reflecting from the ocean’s irregular and ever changing surface. This irregular surface, brought about by the winds that buffet its once passive face, are the children of Poseidon and are universal to the entire planet.
The thought of a universal anything pokes me to continue.
If I stare at these mysterious waters just below the horizon, then allow my eyes to relax so that my field of view becomes unfocused, the scene morphs into a completely different vision, but one that still defies my descriptive skills.
The shadows move.
These moving water prisms are reflections of gray and black shadows garnered from the sky and surrounding ocean. Momentary shadows, whose half-life is less than the lazy blink of an eye, seem so inconsequential, yet, are essential to the whole. The shadows make their one and only descent into the void and are immediately replaced by siblings born to repeat a single line in a never-ending play with an infinite number of acts.
There is a narration from the last scene in the movie, “A River Runs Through It”, from the Noman Maclean book of the same name. Robert Redford speaks the narration. This scene is at once a look into the skills of a talented writer as well as a vivid word picture of my thoughts and feelings on big waters. I can only envy the author and wish the words in italics were mine.
"Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world's great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of those rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs.
I am haunted by waters."