Salt & Water


The Romans celebrated the Feast of Neptunalia and Salacia today, the 23rd of July. And why wouldn’t they? In these hottest days of summer, it is only logical that we would want to escape the heat, no matter to what age we belong. And so the Romans did just what we would do today: they would hit the beach. The sea beckoned then just as it does now, and the masters of that sea were Neptune, the sea god, and his wife Salacia, goddess of the salty sea. For their feast day, the Romans would go to the shore and enjoy the salt air and cool sea breezes. Water and wine were fundamental to the celebration.

If you are not landlocked, you would do well today to visit the sea. Dip your toes in the ocean nearest you. Breathe in the salted air. I can see the Atlantic if I stand on my rooftop, so we have an easy time of it here. If you are in the center of Kansas, far from the ocean, I’d say you can probably just as easily find your Neptunalia and Salacia in a pitcher of water. It is a good day to recognize our reliance on water, to honor its preciousness. Without it, we are nothing.

Salacia, of course, is a name derived from sal, the Latin word for salt, and we’d do well today to also recognize all that salt brings to our lives. We hear the constant warnings of the sodium in processed foods, how there is too much sodium in our diets, the threat it brings of high blood pressure… but if we connect with our food more directly––prepare our own meals from basic ingredients––we recognize immediately the importance of each ingredient, and salt is an excellent example of the need for moderation and balance in our lives: Too much salt will render your meal inedible; too little and your meal is mediocre. But the right amount of seasoning can make things downright sublime.

The Dog Days of Summer, these hottest days of the year, ruled by the dog star Sirius, remain with us until the middle of August. So get you to the beach today if you can and cool off some. The Romans would wish it so. More importantly, though, may your day today be one where the importance of common, ubiquitous things––things like salt and water––are understood and honored for their beautiful mystery.

Image: Cloudy Sky, Mediterranean Sea by Gustave Le Gray. Albumen print, 1857 [Public domain] via Wikimedia Commons.


4 thoughts on “Salt & Water

  1. Beautiful, and thought provking. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Kim Pike says:

    Your posts, always eloquent, inspire a sense of gratitude for the simple pleasures that surround us.

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