Seas the Day: A Year of Sea Swimming Poetry is Rachael Boughton’s first published collection of poetry and prose that she aptly described as “love letters” to the Sea.
Boughton opens her book with this declaration:
“From the moment I entered the cold water I experienced something transformational, a sense of freedom and peace, all worries left behind on the shore. I returned over and over, to throw my inner wild child into the Sea with sheer abandon.”
Boughton’s attachment to the sea grew out of her childhood experiences on the coast of Dorset. Although this connection diminished a bit as she grew up, it was awakened during the pandemic. Boughton found herself walking the windswept beaches and being drawn to the ocean. The beach became a place of refuge, and the cold water became a place of healing.
Broughton explains that after struggling with mental health challenges and a recent diagnosis of PTSD, she embarked on a journey of re-wilding that brought her back to the ocean. Boughton tell us that ”spending time in nature both nourishes and inspires me. Whether it’s wild swimming, running, walking or simply sitting, being mindful of what I can hear, feel, see and smell. Whatever the experience, I am momentarily free.” Boughton also lets us know that the sea and writing has helped her find her “brave” and fostered an sense of resilience. While reading this book, it is evident that the ocean provided so much more than just a place to swim.
The chapters in this book are laid out in chronological order from January to December. Each chapter contains a poem that is paired with a journal entry and photo that helps the reader connect Boughton’s experiences. Sometimes the poems are joyful, sometimes they are serious, but most importantly they are all delightful to read.
As a reader of this collection, I was taken by Boughton’s ability to guide me on a journey through the seasons, the seas, and the community of Dorset sea swimmers. Boughton states that each poem in this book was written after a swim that really “spoke” to her. When I asked if she had a favorite poem, she said that it would be just about impossible to pick a favorite because they all have meaning. With that said, Boughton did admit that January’s sunrise swim was the most magical and holds a special place in her heart. Here is an excerpt from that poem:
Beneath this vast sky, adrift from the shore, There's a sense of adventure, so much more to explore. I’m carried by water, the ebb of the wave, This is my ”why” This is my “brave” (excerpt from January's Poem)
When I read this book, I was also drawn to the winter months. However, my favorite was December’s entry.
In the month of December, Boughton celebrated a year in the sea with her fellow swimmers. As the sun rose they swam serenaded by a local musician playing “Silent Night” from the shore. With a reverence for the time they spent together, Boughton wrote these wonderful lines:
With nature as the greatest host. To give the gift that matters most To Know there is not better worth, than feeling grateful for this earth. (excerpt from December’s poem)
Boughton’s connection to the sea extends beyond this writing. She is also committed to protecting the ocean. As a result, she is donating 10% of the profits from this book to Surfers Against Sewage. This charity is a marine conservation and campaigning charity that inspires, unites and empowers communities to take action to protect oceans, beaches, waves and wildlife. Find out more about Surfers Against Sewage at SAS.org.uk
“I truly believe in the power of nature to heal and inspire. That by spending time in nature we can gain clarity and insight into what matters to us. Whatever your situation, whatever challenges you might be facing; seek out nature. Whether it’s walking in a park, sitting beneath a tree, noticing the sky, or wild swimming! For me it gave me the space to feel free and connect with my creativity. What can it give you? What answers can it provide? Next time you’re outside, spend a moment to take in the view, the sounds, the environment. Then ask yourself how it makes you feel and why. This is where the magic begins…”Rachael Boughton
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