This week I re-read with joy, for the dozenth-plus time, a book that's been one of my favorites since I was nine years old. Because "when you read a book as a child it becomes a part of your identity in a way that no other reading in your life does..."
I always love returning to the beautiful, simple story of a kind family and their life beside the sea.
...Most of all, Margaret Mary loved Cassie's family and the talk of boats and fishing. And the sea.
"What's it like," she asked James, "to be out there? Are you the only boat you can see?"
James, his face touched by the glow of the lamp, his eyes narrowed as if focused on a faraway view, told Margaret Mary.
"Sometimes alone, most times one of many. It's like a giant, or something bigger than all of us, has taken the sky and tucked it down securely all around and kept us safely bobbing within."
Cassie, her fork caught midway between her plate and her mouth, stared at James. She'd never heard him talk this way before. Or seen his look of contentment.
"But there are storms!" she protested as everyone turned to look at her.
Her father laughed. "That there are, Cass," he said.
"But after the storms," said John Thomas, smiling, "coming home with the gulls and terns following us, some even daring to sit on the boat, waiting for scraps of fish, it is like..." John Thomas, not used to long speeches, searched for the right words.
"Peace," said James quietly. "It is peace."
"And," said Cassie's father, as if adding to a chorus, "that's the way it has been for hundreds and hundreds of years. Just the men, the boats, and the sea."
There was a long silence. It had never occurred to Cassie that they loved fishing. She had always thought they did it because they had to.
"It is somehow always the same and yet never the same," said Cassie's father. "But always beautiful."