I was driving home from Cedar Key last week with the windows down and a crisp, salty breeze blowing through the JEEP. The marsh was full of golding water as a sinking sun cast that wonderful fall light across the scene.
It was regular daily scene, yet one that bordered on the emotional in it's beauty and I couldn't help myself.
As I crossed the Number 4 bridge, I blurted out to no one in particular, "God, I love the ocean."
By the time I finished that short sentence, I was over the bridge and back on the mainland, with a 20 minute ride through pines and swamps to think about the scene, the ocean, and the interactions we've had since I landed on Earth in 1958.
Now, there have been a lot of those "interactions", since I grew up surf fishing,diving, surfing, boating, and generally immersing myself in salt water whenever possible.
So, it may seem odd that "scars" came to mind as I left that bridge and were the topic of my silent, solo mental inventory as I drove home.
I think the focus on scars was due to a discussion of tattoos in anatomy class (we are studying tissue types) earlier in the day, when I quizzed the kids on their views on tattoos.
While they were generally pro-tattoo when it came to their own skins, I was not, and quipped that scars were like tattoos with better stories. I also tossed in a Jimmy Buffettism, tattoos are ..." a permanent reminder of a temporary feeling."
Overall, they were pretty open to the idea of tattooing their own skin some day, while I was the one, "Not me" vote.
The scar comment brought up an interesting fact, which I only toss in here as a fascinating side trip ...
None of these kids had ever had stitches.
How in the world do you get to be 16-17 years old and not have had stitches at some point?
Answer: You grow up inside.
So it was that scars became the focus of my saline remembrance.
When I do an inventory of my permanent scars they are all due to the ocean, minus the most recent, temporary Bear scratches.
The scar on my heel: A gift of the ocean via Pellicier Creek at Favor Dykes State Park when I was just a little guy. An oyster slashed my bare heel deeply and it was off to Flagler Hospital in the 1962 Valiant station wagon with my Dad pretending it was an ambulance to cheer me up.
A few years later, the big scar on my knee came from the granite boulders that make up the jetty at the north end of Anastasia Island. I had swam across a tidal lagoon to get to the rocks so I could climb over them to fish the inlet ... and I slipped.
Even later, as a teen, I foolishly stuck my finger in a flounder's mouth to unhook him and ...
Pain, no stitches.
|Here's part of a flounder jaw.|
|A closer look at the amazing architecture of a flounder's equipment.|
PAIN !!!!!, no stitches.
As an adult, body surfing at Panama City in a raging Gulf kicked up by Hurricane Fred (I think it was Fred, but there have been a bunch of 'canes in 54 years) I hit the bottom hard (awesome ride though!) and the sand removed a patch of skin from my shoulder that is a faint scar these days, but I can still find it.
Minor pain, no stitches.
Then, there was the whole "cutting your finger off while scalloping" event. You can read the story at the link above and, if you can stand a little gore, you can see the finger here.
STITCHES AND AN 8mm SCREW installed.
The sneakiest scars the ocean gave me are the Mohs procedure scars in 3 locations that I overexposed to the sun's power while I was spending so much time on and in it.
I suppose the blame there can be shared equally between me, the ocean, and the sun.
$$$, Stitches, semiannual checkups
So, yes, an odd inventory, but odd happens ... especially here at Pure Florida.
I will concede one point to the pro-tattoo view ... Tattoos are a conscious decision and you know when they are coming.
My next scar is (based on my history) out there in the ocean somewhere waiting to surprise me.