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Ross Murray's Border Report
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Ross Murray
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is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, Quebec. You can reach him at ross_murray@sympatico.ca
Posted 09.13.16
Stanstead, Quebec

ROSS MURRAY

Explaining the ocean

Overheard in Maine: "And later we're going to the ocean. Remember I told you about the ocean? It's a big, big water... No, there are no crocodiles."

So. Imagine a water. A big, big water. No, bigger than that. Think of all the bathtubs you will fill in your lifetime. Now multiply by infinity. Add salt. That's the ocean.

It's where the land stops. There's land on the other side of it, but you can't see it. You just have to trust that it's there, and for a while a whole lot of people didn't. If you ever saw an ocean you would understand why.

There are no crocodiles.

There are also no bathtubs, only the water.

The ocean is ripply at the edge by the shore, to varying degrees. Sometimes just wiggling, other times standing up and crashing forward, then back. These are waves. The ocean never stops moving. For something so big, the ocean behaves like a toddler.

While it's true there are no crocodiles, there are many other things that will do you harm in the ocean. There are sharks, jellyfish, fast boats driven by jackass playboy millionaires, a general lack of oxygen. There are countless reasons to be wary of the ocean. But essentially crocodile free. Crocodiles should be the least of your concerns.

I don't think you appreciate what a big, big water the ocean actually is. Years ago, if people wanted to get to the other side of the ocean to visit a relative, a World's Fair, a renowned phrenologist and such, they would have to take a ship. This ship would take many, many days to complete the voyage, so one had to be truly motivated to undertake such a visit, ensuring it was in everyone's best interest, something I think we can all agree is missing in this modern age.

Colour-wise, we're talking a greyish blue. A tad green. Watery. Trying to describe the colour of the ocean is like trying to identify the eye colour of an unattractive person; why bother? Many poets have taken a crack at it, though usually they're more interested in the ocean's bigness, metaphor-wise.

The ocean is a cold, cold water. Many fishermen don't bother learning to swim because they know that if they were to be swept away, the cold would eventually kill them; swimming would only prolong the agony. The fishermen are swept away by large waves and the music of Adele.

There are even sometimes massive chunks of ice in the ocean that have been known to prevent would-be visitors from completing their voyage. There are also no crocodiles on icebergs.

Despite the ocean being lethally cold, people flock to the ripply edges during the summertime with many possessions, games, furniture, and food. These people typically wear underwear, although it is not called "underwear," so it's okay.

In the not-too-distant past, people thought the ocean had curative powers. If they were seeking a cure for not being covered in salt, then mission accomplished.

Today, people venture to the ocean because they want to cool off and be seen in their not-underwear. If you were to join them, you would stand in the ripply edge for a long time, losing feeling in your toes and later other parts, and you would wonder why you aren't home cooling off in a fathomable amount of water in a non-infinite bathtub or even a lake, one where you could see the other side and touch the bottom and swim for hours without thinking, "If I hadn't taken those swimming lessons, I wouldn't be dying slowly of hypothermia right now."

But then you get hit by a wave, which is a shock. You squeal like you didn't know you could. You taste the sting of salt water on your lips, and you go, "Oh. I get it now."p And then you bob like a top.

That's the ocean.

Remember how big I said the ocean is? Well, hang on: there are five of them. Five! Each of these oceans is crazy big. The biggest of them all is the Pacific. And now I must tell you about the saltwater crocodile. They like to hang out on some ripply edges of the Pacific Ocean where the people and other yummy animals live. So while I stand by my statement that there are no crocodiles in the ocean, it is also true that there are crocodiles near the ocean.

But don't worry. The ocean is a big, big water and you are a small, small person. You'll probably be fine.

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