From The Observer News (

Community In Focus
Community In Focus: The Gateway To Dreams
By Mitch Traphagen
Feb 8, 2007, 20:47

A winter’s day draws to a close with the sun setting over Tampa Bay and into the Gulf beyond. Mitch Traphagen Photo
– “Never a ship sails out of the bay But carries my heart as a stowaway.”  Roselle Mercier Montgomery, a reknowned poet from Georgia, wrote those words generations ago.  But for many of us living here, they still hold true today. 

There is something about living on the water’s edge that draws us – and romances us.  Dreams are possible by simply staring out into the sea.  The unknown, the exotic, the mysteries are all out there.

But oddly, despite living next to a world famous bay, it is often the 900-pound elephant that is ignored in the room.  Tampa Bay generally only makes the news when something horrible happens.  Even searching on our own Website reveals a relative scarcity of things written about the bay.  

From a reading of the history of this area, there was a day when Tampa Bay was truly something to be ignored or, better yet, avoided.  Pollution was rampant and it, apparently, carried a distinct and markedly unpleasant odor.  But those days, for the most part, are gone.  Even over the past few years, the water has become visibly clearer.  Tampa Bay and the surrounding waters are beautiful and a siren call for people around the world.

It’s easy to take the bay for granted. If you look at a map or nautical chart, however, you will see that Tampa Bay is nothing like a lake but rather an extension of the Gulf itself.  That’s something any boater or sailor could confirm – in a storm or heavy winds, Tampa Bay most certainly has a dark side.  

But on a typically sunny Florida day – or under the bright stars of our  sub-tropical sky - it is a gateway to dreams.  From the shores of South Hillsborough, you could travel the world.  From simply standing on a beach, you can imagine the world.  What is out there?

Whether on an offshore midnight watch or standing on the water’s edge on a moonless night, the bay and the waters beyond somehow speak directly into the mind.  The voice, however, is yours alone.  Peaceful introspection can be found there.

American poet E.E. Cummings, perhaps said it best:  “For whatever we lose (like a you or a me), It’s always our self we find in the sea.

Visit the bay – take a chance.  You may be amazed by what you find in the sea.

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