Friday, May 24, 2013

What's The First Thing You Want To Do At The Beach?

This is the question that our almost-four-year-old granddaughter, Ruby, asked me while we were still hundreds of  miles away from our Florida destination.  "What do you want to do first, Grandmom?"

It was a question dripping with anticipation. . . . in her wide eyes, raised shoulders, in the way she leaned forward to catch my answer. Of all the millions of fun things we're going to do . . . "What do you want to do FIRST?"

Ruby's Mama (daughter, Elizabeth) and Papa (Ben) invited me to join them for a week at their rental house at Grayton Beach.  Like last year, my R.S.V.P. left no doubt. . .
"Wouldn't miss it."
"Sign me up."
"Retirement is wonderful!"

But I had not given any thought to what I wanted to do first.  Children are quick to teach us that these kinds of questions don't require contemplation.  No adult, "Well, let me think about that and get back to you" nonsense.

Children are all about spontaneity.
Ruby was waiting for my answer, but she wouldn't wait long.
So, I said the first thing that came to mind.

"I want to feel the warm sand squish between my toes."

"Sand between your toes!" she said, in such disbelief, that I couldn't tell whether she thought it was the silliest - or yuckiest - idea she had ever heard.

Once the words were out of my mouth, though, I knew they were true.  My first steps on a warm, sandy beach, trigger what I can only describe as a "melting" response.

Starting with my shoulders 
  traveling through my arms 
     down my legs
       out my toes, 
      tenseness loosens, 
like a puddle of butter
     at my feet.

                                           The earth absorbs it, takes it away, says, "Relax."

However, when you're three, going on four, who needs to hear about relaxation?
So I ask Ruby, "What do you want to do first?
"Catch a crab!" she exclaims. No hesitation whatsoever.

                                                      And with the help of Papa,

                                               who scours the bottom for a crab, any crab,
                                                                 hermit or high society. . .

Ruby gets her crab!


For Grandmother and Granddaughter,
Life’s a Beach, 
no matter what you want to do 

*Sign credits -
"Watchout for crabs"-
"Sandy toes"- 

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The Height of Cherry Blossom Beauty

My writing spot at our NYC apartment is the dining table beside the window, looking down 27 floors.  Plenty high for me, considering that my knees start shaking at heights greater than a step stool.  Today I'm blogging from a cruising altitude of 36,000 feet, at a window seat, no less.  The view as we fly over square patches of land, in who-knows-what state, is tempting -  in a queasy kind of way. But with the width of the country to cross in the next few hours, I need a long-term writing distraction.

San Francisco is my final destination to attend our daughter-in-law, Kate's, doctoral graduation from The Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley.  A proud and monumental accomplishment, to be sure!

In the days leading up to the trip, my list of Shoulds grew increasingly vocal, if not downright pushy.
"You should wash."
"You should clean."
"You should pack."
"You should run errands."
Should . . . Should . . . Should!

"But I don't want to," I answered.  "Look at the sun pouring through the windows.  It's 65 degrees outside. 
                   Trees are leafing.  Flowers are blooming.  Ice cream carts are waiting."

To appease the Shoulds I ticked a few things off the list, but the Want-Tos, just as determined and much more computer savvy, drew my attention to the message on the Brooklyn Botanic Garden's website. . .

                                       "Cherry Blossoms At Peak !"

   That was it -- the tipping point.  Enough Shoulds!  The Want-Tos, who often feel neglected, joined me as we joyfully tripped out the door.

Every direction I looked after entering the Garden was a photograph.  From my camera's perspective, I tried to focus the expansive beauty into intimate close-ups.


All my attempts to add words as accompaniment fall pitifully short and unnecessary.  

Meandering through the photos, perhaps you can discover your own words - or not - choosing simply to be with the beauty.  

 Or, do as I do, and borrow from Mary Oliver. . .

...The Singular and Cheerful life
of any flower
in anyone's garden
or any still unowned field --

if there are any --
catches me
by the heart, 
by its color,

by its obedience
to the holiest of laws:
be alive
until you are not.

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