A Brightening for Mortal Men MAG

By Unknown, Unknown, Unknown

   Thesun rose on the flawless brimming sea into a sky all brazen - all one brighteningfor gods immortal and for mortal men on plowlands kind with grain. - The Odysseyby Homer

My hands tapped restlessly on the yellowed rubber handgrips of myrusty bike as we rattled down dusty paths surrounded by grass and water. All theguidebooks said lle de Ré, a tiny island off the coast of France, wasflatter than a crepe, and for once, they were not distorting the truth.

The bicycles complicated the adventure considerably; we rented four froman old man who spoke guttural French. From another era, they had three gears, allof which were suspiciously similar. Mine had a nasty habit of slamming intoneutral, usually when I was hurrying to cross an intersection. Each time, Ilurched forward as the pedals became weightless and knocked solidly against thefront of the seat. By the end of the day I was in no mood to enjoy the scenery.Mostly, I wondered Why are we doing this? The next morning we slathered onsunburn cream and set off again.

I never have any choice during ourvacations, I fumed, as my feet churned monotonously. If I had my choice, Iwouldn't be doing this, I thought. My bike skidded off the side of the path andcrashed into the tall swampy grass. Although my family helped me up, I wasconvinced they didn't care. They purposefully brought me here to tortureme!

Our bikes clattered onto a boardwalk, and the yellow grass began tothin out into fine, white sand. The sun was bright. I stared down at myincessantly rotating feet. I must have been staring for some time, because when Iraised my head, everything had changed. We had reached the sea, and thesapphire-blue water glittered like a jewel. The yellow grass was gone. The sandwas soft and inviting, the waves playful.

We sat and had lunch. I wiggledmy toes in the sand and watched the waves coming again and again, like rows ofsolemn soldiers landing on a strange shore. I looked toward the horizon, wherethe sky and the sea merged. The ocean was not unchanging - it moved and breathedlike a living thing, endlessly wrinkling and straightening, curling and foldingin on itself with creamy breakers creeping higher and higher in the sand,straining farther and farther, until at last they fell back to make room for thenext row of invaders. I waded in, feeling the bite of the icy Atlantic deep in mybones, and thought that this beauty must have been left here just for me to seeand understand.

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