A Not So Distant Shore

The Darwinians among us say that eons ago our primordial ancestors wriggled out of the oceans’ oozing fecundity and flopped onto the nascent land, toppling a line of biological dominoes that, by luck and by pluck, somehow resulted in — us!

Perhaps those ancient marine roots explain the attraction we Homo sapiens have for the sea. Lacking even any vestigial tools for living on, in or under the water, we nonetheless do all those things. To compensate for the absence of biological accessories like gills, webbed feet or wings, we devise watercraft of all sorts, strap tanks of air to our backs and construct buildings on stilts balanced above the waves.

And that works ­— except when it doesn’t. Inattention, a mistake, a surging sea can exact a precious toll. A foggy winter’s morning on Swede’s Beach in Sausalito provides evidence enough about the fragility of man’s aquatic inclinations.

There, just offshore, a latticework of pilings punctuates a world of gray. The posts, rotting remains of someone’s vision and toil, provide respite for terns and remind us that we are no longer creatures of the sea, a realm we abandoned long ago for these shores on which we now stand.

“I realized that if I had to choose,
I would rather have birds than airplanes.”
        — Charles Lindbergh