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Mostly, I wouldn't. I'm not the outdoorsy type, and I've never been overly fond of being in water. My experience is mostly with lakes and pools, though. I live near the ocean at the moment, and have been close enough to touch it twice in over 5 years. I enjoyed the raw power of the waves crashing on rocks or rocky beaches, and I really enjoy looking at, and handling, the small rocks, shells, and other detritus the sea spits up to the shore.

The first time I was ever at the ocean was in Ireland 11 years ago. I didn' realize till much later that that was my first time personally experiencing he ocean. I grew up in Michigan, the Great Lakes State. The Great Lakes system is the world's largest fresh water source. The Great Lakes are similar to the ocean in many ways, just without the salt. They change or create weather, they crumple up ships in storms (the Edmund Fitzgerald possibly being the most famous case), they sculpt the shoreline into dunes or Pictured Rocks. Standing on the shore, the lakes seem to go on forever: you can't see the other side. Flying over Lake Michigan on a commercial airline, for a moment, you see (on a clear day) nothing below but water. Michigan, in fact, has the second-longest coast of all the United States, second only to Alaska. (Yes, it has a longer coast than California.) It is surrounded by four of the five Great Lakes, plus the smaller Lake St. Clair (where I steered a boat for the first time). The state also has more than 10,000 inland lakes. Where I grew up, there were about four different lakes within a mile from our house, not counting swamps. One of them we skated on in winter, another we swam in, and the others we only saw driving past. In other cities, we sometimes went out on friends' boats in their local lakes. Lakes were everywhere in Michigan.

I live on a lake right now, that is actually an estuary, which is where salt and fresh water mix. The saltwater comes in from the San Francisco Bay. When the tide is out, the "lake" stinks. It's also a bird sanctuary, populated by various ducks, geese, egrets, and various other shore birds. They bring back childhood memories of seagulls at the lakes, and especially at the Great Lakes.

At my local estuary, or at any lake, or at the Great Lakes, or at the ocean, I enjoy watching patterns in the water as wind ripples waves, as the tide flows in and out, as birds, fish, rocks, and debris disturb water flow. I enjoy listening to that water flow, sometimes gently flowing, sometimes crashing. On a warm day, I enjoy feeling the water, whether by immersing feet or fingers or from the spray carried in wind. I enjoy watching the sun play on the water and the surface's reflection of the sky, however distorted by waves, or the reflection of the water's surroundings—buildings, trees, islands, or shoreline. When I go to the water, whether lake or ocean, I'm much more likely to have my camera than a swimsuit. (In fact, I don't even own a swimsuit!)

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