Dawn Swimmer, The Mermaid

IMG_20200602_080709 Dawn Swimmer, The Mermaid in the Bay
Reflected in the mirror is a mural my daughter made for me of the two us as mermaids sitting on a rock.

Sea maidens are good for us. They connect us to the life-renewing qualities of water. They link us to the regenerative powers of the subconscious. They combat the bleak reality of our concrete jungles. They deepen our kinship with the wild. In these technological times, may these children of the sea continue to splash vigorously through our dreams and stories, reminding us we are all a part of nature.

                                                                                           -Mary Pope Osborne

I am also a mermaid. I don't know when my attraction to the image of the mermaid began. Clearly, my love of the sea, swimming and the fluidity I feel in the water clearly drew me to her. She is wild and untamed a creature of the vast, bountiful, unpredictable sea but she is also partly human and tamed and attracted to the land and its comforts. There's a tension in her between the wild and the domestic, movement and stability, longing for what might be and contentment with what is. She gives part of herself to stay on land and must sacrifice love to stay in the sea.

This Royal Doulton Neptune was gifted to me when I was about 16 and he watches over me while I sleep. The mermaid mosaic in the wall was made by a man in love with me.

She is complex, mysterious, deep, alluring, powerful, simple and of course, always beautiful in her grace, flow and presence. While her love is deep, unending and generous, like the sea, when she is caught, forced and surprised against her will her strength and character shine through. She is, after all, a daughter of Neptune/Poseidon.

Green marble sculpture by Candido Pazos gifted to me by those who love me.

Curiously, others have often associated me with the mermaid and given me that sobriquet. It surprises and pleases me to be seen even though my tail isn't visible to the naked eye. A profoundly moving experience occurred about 25 years ago when I went swimming into the sea off the shore. There happened to be a group of kids at a summer camp doing an activity on the beach. I guess I spent quite a bit of time in the water doing my thing – swimming, playing, and floating. When I started to head back in through the waves, I saw all the kids lined up on the shore doing some kind of dance and song. I thought, Oh, that's sweet. As I emerged from the water, I realized that they were singing the song in my honor. Apparently, there had been some concern about me being out in the water so long and they decided to sing me a song upon my return. It was a very beautiful moment rising out of the water, happy from the swim and being greeted by a chorus of children's voices directed at me.

17th C Catalan woodcut of the musical mermaid
Whimsical local artist
Scallop shell on left by Channing Thieme and mermaid silhouette in driftwood
A personal favorite
A favorite theme for my kids
Mermaid plate by a French ceramicist.

As Mary Pope Osborne observes in the quote above (taken from the book Mermaid Tales from Around the World, 1992, Scholastic Press) the mermaid is also a connection to creativity, generativity, nature, the wild and undomesticated and renewal of body and soul. This spirit of the mermaid underlies this blog. ..

Ocean Song by Laurel Burch. Notebook cover where I take notes for Swimming at Dawn.
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Saturday, 20 July 2024

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