27 July 2008

Ice and water

Those who know me know that my favorite TV show is Discovery Channel's Deadliest Catch. I am a dedicated fan, enthralled by the men who make their living pulling king and opilio crab out from the depths of the Bering Sea.

The fishermen are truly men above men. Courageous, confident, daring...vulnerable. To challenge an insurmountable sea bares wide their humanity and their fragility. It achieves that masterful dichotomy of heroic accomplishment against the purest demonstration of human frailty. As true to form as Greek mythology, Eastern legend or Western folklore. I watch each episode in sheer awe.

There are few facets of our world left upon which we human animals have not worn a careless track, even in some cases to defeat or extinction. We often rage against the very universe that supports us.

The Bering sea is not exempt of human mistreatment. But its freezing spray to encase ships, the monumental rise of waves, and the roll of sub-zero waters that sap a man's life in seconds are reminders that we are not the masters of this universe, merely some of its smallest members, and tender ones at that. That which is sacred remains the vast expanse of green sea, the Aleutian gray sky, the scream of gulls and the pink barnacled shells of crab.

And the thickening of ice in sheets that extend like solid ground until the fishermen can even step over the side of their ship and walk on the surface of the sea, miles away from any shore.


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