What Lurks Beneath

In honor of the close of “Shark Week”, and, For Captain Ahab and my family – blood and other.

My brother is brave.  Military, kinda-brave.  I’ve not seen him shaken up but once in my life.

On our illustrious Bimini trips, all of us kids would take turns jumping off the docks into the crystal clear blue waters of the marina.  That water was stunning.  I didn’t realize it then, but the pure joy of jumping into water that you can see clear through to the sandy, starfish and sand dollar strewn bottom of, was a gift.  We took it for granted.

Youth is wasted, and all that.

We also took for granted that there would ever be anything in that water that could hurt us.  The marina felt safe.  It was a haven, not only for the boats that would make the trek over from South Florida for their various fishing and diving ventures, but for us kids, too. We knew only safety in the incessant jumping in and climbing out of those waters.

One of the most majestic sea creatures that you could ever encounter are the giant Manta rays that glide through the waters of the Bahamas.  They are massive.  And docile. But, massive.  The “babies”, alone, are from three to five feet across.

One fine afternoon we all ran down the dock, taking turns jumping into the crystal waters.  When it was my brave brother’s turn, wild and reckless, even at 8 years old, he took a gigantic flying leap out into the marina. And promptly walked on water right back up onto the dock.

We all came running to look down and see what could possibly instill fear of that magnitude in my brave brother’s heart. Four gargantuan Manta-rays gracefully passing through held us transfixed.

It took a couple of minutes for my brother to get his color back. And, you can be sure that we all looked before we leaped from then on out.

We would also waterski everywhere when we were in the Bahamas. If the boat could fit into the area and the stretch was long enough to get a decent run in, then we would go for it.

From time to time, we would actually have one of us in the water getting skis on and ready, while someone else was making a run. If we were the one waiting to be taken on a run, we’d sometimes have to wait for 5 minutes or more for the boat driver to circle back around.  Once in a while, if it wasn’t shallow enough to stand, we’d just lay on top of our skiis until it was our turn.

And so, one cloudy day, that was me.  Bobbing around on top of the skis waiting to be picked up. Happily.

Until I saw a fin. At fifteen, I was plenty old enough to know that all of the many sharks we had seen over the years had been incredibly kind to mind their own business.  I knew how much pain a shark could inflict. I started to breathe in and breathe out, keep my eye on that fin, and pray to hear the motor of the boat approaching.

The fin seemed to be about 40 or 50 feet away.  I still have no idea. I’m not very good at gauging distances, and even less so when I think a shark is eye-balling my person. I decided at some point to just lay on top of my skiis, stop watching the fin, and hope for the best.

And about that time, I was so zoned out that I completely missed the approach of the boat. I only knew rescue had come because Ahab had reached down and pulled me up into the boat, all calm-like.  No one said a word and we hustled back to pick up the other skiier.

But I’ll tell you this – I never offered to be the sitting duck again, I’ll tell you. Oh no I did not.

And we were all more aware of what lurked beneath.

Oh, yes indeedy.

Heaven Is a Warm Ocean

I am an ocean lover, through and through. The warmer, the better.

heaven_is_here_missindeedy

I like pools. The warmer, the better. (Unless it’s because you couldn’t make it to the potty in time. Then, not so much.)

And then, there is a special spot in my heart that is reserved for all the things I tolerate.

Lakes.  Lakes are there in that spot – right next to lizards.

And cold pools.

We have an ocean near-ish. We get there as often as we can, in the summer.

It’s cold.

We also have a town pool. We get there as often as we can in the summer.

It’s mostly cold.

This Floridian still can’t muster up the courage to jump into our town pool before July 30th or after August 30th.

If you’re doing the math, that equals up to Not Much Pool-time.

During this thirty-one day stretch, I must continually remind myself that I chose to move to New England because, Boston!  And because, Sweetman!

So, I was thrilled to find out that one of my sweet friends, who also happens to live in our neighborhood, is planning to have a beautiful new pool put into their backyard.  It’s one of those super fan-cee salt water ones. It will have the standard stairs, to get into and out of, of course. But, the best part about this pool?  It’s soon going to be heated. Oh, yes it is!

I’ve come to the conclusion that this is necessary for anyone who chooses to live above the Mason-Dixon line.  Otherwise, you might just find yourself jumping into a pool that is barely pushing 65 degrees.  Even if it is 98 degrees outside.

And people?  That is just not right.

I should have taken a clue when I began teaching water-skiing in the Berkshires of Massachusetts some twenty-odd summers ago.  That first crisp summer morning, when I jumped into the lake to begin instruction, it took less than 10 minutes for me to tag the other instructor because I was too cold to stay in. Plus, my foot touched something slimy.

No. Just… no.

Therefore, it might surprise you to learn that I was somehow convinced to become part of a three-woman relay team, as The Swimmer, in a local women’s triathlon sprint. Yes, you read that right.  Come early September, this girl, right here, will be doing her darndest not to die as she competes in the swim portion of a women’s triathlon sprint.

“It’ll be so much fun,” they said.  “You’ll have so much support,” they promised.  “We’re not doing it to win,” they assured me.

The part they forgot to mention?

Training.

In the local lake.

Or town pool.

Neither of which are heated.

Oh, and…the race itself? In a lake.

I don’t have to wonder about what hell is like.

I think I’ll stick with my plans to go to heaven.

There will definitely be warm ocean water there.

Yes indeedy.

In Your Blood

Turtle_Egg_Beaching_Missindeedy

Or, I could have titled this post, “Just Another Deep Beach Walk & Talk With Ahab”.

The Tantrums and whining have been plenteous out of Sweetgirl at this stage of her development. Can I get an Amen from other mama’s that are In It or who have Been There?

Ahab likes to remind me that I still have them, now and then, at 40-something.  Don’t hit me with facts, man!

We are employing the “ignore the nasty behavior and maybe it will go away” strategy, right now.

I’ll keep you posted.

In the meantime, during our early morning walk the other day, the sweet children were delighted to see the turtle egg sanctuaries dotting the beach.  They ran right up to them and asked, again, about the process.

I patiently re-explained how the mama digs a hole in the sand and delivers her baby turtle eggs there and then covers up the hole with sand and heads back out into the ocean to eat.  And I reminded them how when the baby turtles hatch out of their eggs they make their way out to the great big ocean to find their mother (I might have made up that last part to stem the 400 anguished “But, WHY?” questions that would result from full-out honesty, here). 

Their eyes glazed over and they bailed.

Down the beach they went, playing “catch me if you can” with the waves lapping at their feet.

Ahab turned to me and said, “Those kids sure are ocean lovers, aren’t they?”

I replied that of course they were – I am their mother!

And he reminded me of this truth:

“Once the ocean gets in your blood, it’s there to stay, isn’t it?”

As he sauntered off to frolic with his grandkids, I stood still for a moment to let that sink in.  And I came to a realization.

The ocean getting in your blood is an awful lot like when Jesus enters your heart.

He is there to stay.

And He will cleanse you.  Much like the ocean will for any wound you have on your body.

And He will wipe out our mistakes. As the ocean will do to any pictures drawn in the sand.

And He will remind you of how Powerful He is.  Just as the crashing waves of the ocean will.

And the deeper you allow Him to take you and your heart, the more beauty you will discover. Oh, the beauty to be found in the depths of the ocean!

And, sometimes, there are scary things lurking in deeper waters. We are all quite capable of envisioning something in the ocean that causes fear.

And His significance will ebb and flow throughout your walk with him. Just like the ocean’s tides.

But His love for you is endless. Exactly as the ocean looks when you stare out at the expanse of it.

My pondering came to a screeching halt when Sweetgirl came running up to me to ask, “When the baby turtles hatch, will they see their mama? Does the mama come back? Who will help them? How will they find her?”

Rapid fire.

Just like that.

With an increase of Whine and Panic with each new question asked.

And before I can answer, Ahab jumps in and says, “She doesn’t come back because then the baby turtles will just whine instead of figuring out how to make their way to the ocean by themselves. They just know how to do it already.  It’s in their blood.”

To which Sweetgirl replies calmly, “Oh.”

To which I reply in my heart, “Oh.”

Yes, indeedy.

Sunshine State of Mind

Family is pretty stinkin’ precious. We feel that in full measure tonight. We spent a blessed 2 weeks with The Nana and Captain Ahab and oodles of time with the cousin, too.  Our fourth of July celebration was subdued, but with family and close friends, so altogether lovely.  As we closed our vacation time out in  sunny Florida with the grandparentals, we started realizing that there would be a few things that we would be missing somethin’ fierce. These things put us all into a sunshine state of mind, and here they are, in no particular order:

1)  I’ll miss being able to go out into the yard and just grab a mango off of a tree.  Back to grocery store mangoes for me…

We had delicious mangoes almost every single morning or afternoon.

2) That Sweetgirl – she does NOT nap.  I mean… ever!  The motion of the ocean finally got to her, though.  Praise The Lord! And Amen.

Naps don’t get better than this. Right?

3) I get great pleasure out of seeing my Sweetboy do this; and he did a boatload of it:

The child – he surely does love his snorkel and mask.

And lastly,

4)  I realized two things after I planned and executed the following picture.

It’s been a great vacation when you’ve got a ring tan!

The first is that it makes me all kinds of happy to see a ring tan on my finger there.  (Hopefully, that’s obvious by my… you know, ‘planning and executing’ a picture of my tan-lined ring finger. And now that I’ve written that down, I do believe I might just need an intervention.)  And the second thing is that Sweet Moses! I have some unsightly man-looking hands.

I can’t win em’ all.  Indeed.

I sure hope y’all are  enjoying your summer so far!  Whatcha doin’?

That’s More Like It

It’s been raining on and off since we arrived here in Not-So-Sunny-Florida.  We are, however, with a Nana and a Captain Ahab that we haven’t seen in a good long while;  and, so, we’ve been enjoying each other anyway.  Imagine. The Captain, however, is up to his same old tricks.  I haven’t  come up with a catchy name for the debacle that occurred this morning yet.  It could be called Watergate.  It really could.  But that’s already been taken.  Here’s the gist:

Ahab: “Let’s run the kids over to the beach to check the ocean before the day gets rolling.”

Me: (Naively) “That sounds like a great idea!”

The sun was sparkling across the water and peeking out just enough at 7:00 in the morning to give us hope for a decent day. We grabbed hold of that hope with a little more zeal than caution would warrant for the skies that were overhead. Can I just stop here a moment to tell you all, (all 8 of you), how poignant it is to watch my children walk the beach early in the morning with Captain Ahab?  That same daddy walked me and my brother when we were their age.  Oh, how the beach shell turns…

Aren’t Those Skies Talking?

Far longer than a “short beach run” later, we arrived home soaked to the bone.  You see, Captain Ahab thought it would be a mighty fine idea to walk the kids (including the littlest – Sweetgirl) all the way to the jetty.  And back. From where we started out, it was a good quarter-mile (or more) there, and then another good quarter-mile or more back.  That would have been great if we just had the two 9-year-old boys.  Alas… Halfway TO the jetty, Sweetgirl started telling us that her legs were tired of All The Walking.  Not a good sign.

Just about the time Ahab and I realized we should probably start heading back from the jetty, the skies decided to get angry.  We tried to shuffle the kids away, but dang it, there was a hot-pink mask washed ashore that was just Sweetgirl’s size, and a half-dead sea fan that begged to be brought back (despite the stench); not to mention the two turtle hatchling eggshells we found.  Oh, The Excitement!  Unfortunately, all of The Excitement made trying to hurry them along kind of like herding cats.  Only, harder.

Happily at the Jetty

All that to say, about 2 minutes into our 15 minute walk back, the skies opened up and rained on our beachy parade.  Here are a few things I heard from the lolly-gaggers before one of them needed to be picked up to keep the party moving along.

Sweetboy:  “We’ve walked 3 or 4 miles now, haven’t we Grampa?”

Sweetgirl: “My Eyes!  My Eyes are getting wet.  See, Grampa?”

Cousin:  “Can I just go ahead and jump in the ocean and go swimming?  I’m already wet!”

We did make it back. Wet, but happy to have enjoyed the adventure.  And to have made it back without getting struck by lightning. Obviously. As, I’m now sitting here in the comfort of the house telling you all about the latest adventure “abroad”.  Only, “abroad” is really just down South from up North.  Indeed.

Ain’t You Sweet

Ever been to a part of the good ol’ U.S. of A., other than the one you live in, and experience some major culture shock?  C’mon, you know what I’m talking about.  I just know you do.  It never ceases to amaze me, though, how hospitable some parts of the country are. Now, I’m not going to get into calling out “this part” of the country versus “that part” because I think the whole “red state” versus “blue state” notion is about as unifying as a wedge.  And while I don’t cater to the “why can’t we all just get along” theory all that much, I do cater to the “treat others as you want to be treated” theory.

And so, I’m going to share a wonderful kind of culture shock that I was subjected to a while back.  Summertime was drawing to a close, but since  Sweetboy was still an “only child” at that point and not yet anywhere near school age,  I bravely left Sweetdaddy at home to work and took off on a plane to spend a week with Nana and Grampy.  We were visiting them in their latest retirement destination possibility.  (Another post for another day…) This particular state is a wonderful smorgasbord of a place, with a bit of everything for everyone; lakes and rivers, the ocean, mountains, and some metro areas along with some very backwoodsy kinda ones.  We were in the backwoodsy, along the river part.

One fine day, while winding through gorgeous mountainous roads, we had to make a quick pit stop at the grocery store for a few essentials (ice cream, chips, salsa, beer – in that order!).  I left Sweetboy in the car with the grandparentals and ran in to grab our necessaries. I was waiting patiently in line thinking about the order in which I might like to consume said essentials, when the lady in front of me wrapped up her transaction and it was my turn. I noticed that she left her co-cola bottle on the counter next the debit machine. So I, of course, felt it was my duty to hightail it after her and make sure she had it in hand to drive with.  It hadn’t even been opened yet, you see.  Let no co-cola be left behind, was my thinking.  I caught up to this woman in the parking lot and breathlessly said, “Ma’am, you left your co-cola behind at the checkout line!”  She beamed. That is to say that she flashed me the biggest toothless smile I could never even have imagined and said, with all earnestness, “Well, ain’t you sweet!”.

It has become a family motto around here. Oh, yes indeedy, it has.  Need I say more?