George Worthy
George Worthy

My wife is pretty much the center of my life. She is constantly giving me gifts of items that I may have mentioned in a casual conversation weeks or even months ago. Oftentimes it is a great surprise and something that I would treasure for many years, or at least long enough for me to forget where I put it. Of course I feel terrible when this happens, but she never gets mad and tells me to not worry, that she would get me another one. I almost never get angry with her. How do you get mad at an angel?

Some time ago she gave me an iPad. Now if you have one of these electronic babysitters you will understand what the rest of this week’s column is about. I don’t think I ever asked her to buy me one, and in fact I thought they were overpriced toys. Yet for a gift-giving occasion she handed me a box that contained an iPad.

If you have one of these electronic black hole devices, then you know how habit forming they are. I have come to love mine and it has given me many hours of entertainment. Besides settling any rare argument we might deal with, it seems to have all the answers in the world. It has movies and games and… oh, well, lots of fun in a little package. I particularly enjoy the movies that are stored inside the book-sized marvel.

I usually find a movie that has a particular interest to me and learn something new or just re-watch an older movie that I have seen and enjoyed. That is what I did this past weekend. I was a little tired of the usual fair. You know, good guys against bad guys. I am sure I would enjoy whatever I chose, but this time I was fooled.

The movie I chose this past week is called “My Octopus Teacher.” I had no pre-knowledge of this movie. In my mind I thought perhaps I had read something about it, but the real reason I picked it out was because it had to do with my favorite environment: the ocean. I have been in love with the ocean since I lived in Grover City down by Pismo Beach. I was only about 6 years old when we moved back from Arkansas and dad bought a home in the little town of Grover City. I think I read it is now called the City of Grover, but it will always be in my mind as Grover City.

One of the best parts about Grover City was that it was just across the road from the ocean. I used to shine shoes in the grocery store and the owner was pretty cool. Since the statutes of limitation have passed by now, I will spill my crimes to you. I used to run across the railroad tracks to the beach early in the morning and stand guard on top of the tallest sand dune while my brothers and their friends would run out into the waves with my dad’s clamming fork and dig up clams. There may have been a limit back then, but I never saw one.

We would take the clams up into the sand dunes and crack open the clams and pull the meat out and put them into empty milk pint wax cartons. Then wade back across the swamp and sell the clams to grocery stores and cafes that were right next to the highway. If I said we made any money, I would be telling a lie. The buyers knew what we had done and they knew we weren’t very sophisticated crooks, so they would actually pay us in cash. Not very much cash, but to a family without a lot of money anything was treasured. We never got caught because we knew how to run.

The reason I mention this is because we became very familiar with the tides and where we could go without getting in over our heads. None of the bigger kids were big enough to save anyone, so we were very careful. The ocean was so beautiful and big, it was just perfect.

This weekend while perusing the movies on my iPad, I saw a movie called “My Octopus Teacher.” It brought forth a memory of all the wondrous things I had seen in the ocean. The movie was about a man who chose to live close to the ocean and would go out everyday to swim inside a kelp forest, just to see what a beautiful place the ocean is. He would swim without any air tanks and said that he got stronger with each dive and the temp of the water seemed to become warmer with each dive.

On one dive he witnessed a strange sight. A pile of shells and seaweed piled up in a strange way. As he got closer, one of his flippers clipped this pile and it disintegrated in front of his eyes. As he swam closer, he saw a small octopus swim out of the debris and slip under an over hang. The rest of the movie is all about how he became so familiar with the octopus and what he learned about the octopi and their difficult life as food for other fish.

This one movie hit all the buttons of my love for all things that swim. I felt as though I knew the octopus too.

I remembered all the wonderful things I learned about the ocean and the countries where I have swam. My dad showing me how to get abalone off the rocks before they clamp down, how to watch the sand where a clam was bubbling, the strange sights I saw when my oldest brother and I swam off the shore in the Gulf of Tonkin in Vietnam, watching the moving floor of the ocean and all of God’s mysteries. I was blessed to attend the First Special Forces Scuba School in Key West Florida and fell in love again.

God Bless.

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Gonzales columnist George Worthy may be reached at [email protected].

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