Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay by Helen Chappell
For as long as I can remember, and up to this very day, I’ve found great spiritual peace in watching water. The contemplation of that other world, both beautiful and unknown, has always intrigued me. If you want to meditate, lie face down on a dock and peer over the side into the other world below the surface. After a while, you can enter a hypnotic state and have a natural history lesson at the same time. To peer into brackish water, like a creek or a river, is one meditation. Another is to lie on a grass bank and observe the flora and fauna of a freshwater stream. Having a stick to poke at passing leaves and prod at crayfish is deeply satisfying, both for a child and for an adult showing a child how to pass some tradition on. A tradition that doesn’t involve video games and cheap plastic crap, I might curmudgeonly add. There’s something to be said for the observation of water for no other reason than just looking. A parent might say you could do something more useful, but what could be a better lesson in patience and observation than gazing into water? It teaches one to watch and observe.
When I was a kid, I liked lying flat on the dock with a piece of string and a looted strip of bacon. The world beneath those pilings on a warm summer day could be fascinating. In spring you could see the clear bottom, the little holes in the mud, the barnacles attached to the pilings that could cut you into shreds if you got too close to those sharp, dead shells. The green shadows beneath the dock rolled and swelled, and the summer smell of creosote pilings
Barnacles on the dock. 11