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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Last Hurrah of Summer

The other day, I did something I’d never done in the forty plus years I’ve lived here.

I spent the night at the beach.

Now, I know that might not seem like much, and I suppose in the Grand Scheme of life, it isn’t. On the other hand, the experience was a good lesson in how so often, many of us fail to take a break and simply relax—just let the world go by for a few days.

It’s amazing how that sort of downtime refreshes enthusiasm, perks up your energy, and helps redefine some of your goals in life.

And strangely enough, it almost didn’t come about.

Months ago, my two daughters suggested spending a few days at the beach. I didn’t think anymore about it until a few weeks later when they gave us some dates.

Four days and three nights. And to our surprise, at no cost.

Can’t beat that, huh?

So we decided to drive down the second day, spend the night, and come on back home, back to the growing grass, feeding the cats, cleaning the pool, cussing the heat—you know, those favorite activities that seem to never end.

We found the house, and when we saw it, our jaws hit the ground. My daughter had told us about it, but the reality was still difficult to absorb.

Three stories, several bedrooms and baths, beautifully furnished, three decks—a heck of a lot nicer than our own home—There had to be a mistake somewhere. There wasn’t.
We spent time at the beach with the kids enjoying the water. One of my son-in-laws even tried some kind of beach surfing in the shallower water, taking several tumbles.

That afternoon, we headed to Galveston, walking the Strand, prowling in the shops, finishing up with a delicious meal at a superb restaurant, Casey’s, on the seawall.

The seawall! I’d forgotten just how long it was and just how many people frequented the beach. Automobiles were parked end-to-end along every inch of the 10.4 mile seawall.

That night, we gathered on the first deck facing the beach. The moon was almost full, laying out a golden fan on the shimmering gulf. From time to time, someone would spot a shadow in the water, and like giggling school kids, we’d speculate the return of Jaws or Mega Shark or even Godzilla. We laughed and reminisced until well after midnight.

Reluctantly the next morning we came back home, pulling in the drive about ten-thirty.

While we had not intended to return, the kids’ entreaties, and the fact we’d probably never again in our life spend the night is such luxury was too compelling. And the fact they planned to grill hamburgers, hot dogs, and boudain on the deck that night was like dangling a carrot in front of a plow horse.

We pulled in about three o’clock. The kids were down at the local waterpark, so Gayle and I sat in the shade on the first deck, enjoying the salty breeze and a cold libation.

We looked at each other and nodded. Life was good.

And as the night before, we sat on the deck until late, enjoying each other’s company while indulging in gourmet repast of wieners, burgers, and boudain. That’s how the magic of the beach works—simple pleasures become treasures.

The kids? They had a barrel of fun; they had no trouble sleeping. In fact, I found the two grandsons asleep on the couch around eight or so. And no, I didn’t wake them.

For three days and two nights, I didn’t know what was going on in the world, and you know something, I didn’t care. The sobering reality of the cataclysmic problems facing us today is that they are very unlikely to ever go away, at least in the years I have left.

I just hope my little ten-month-old granddaughter, Kenli, or four-year-old Mikey or six-year-old Keegan will see the problem solved.

Well, summer's about over with the kids going back to school. This trip was our last hurrah of the season, but as for me, I think I’ll set up another little savings account for next summer. A night at the beach is a sure way to rub out stress and strengthen the family ties.

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