Thursday, July 23, 2009
“...the incredible soothing power of waves...”
There is something special about returning to the sea. Some paleontologists believe humans evolved near the coastlines. Perhaps that explains the incredible soothing power of waves lapping the shore.
Ah, the beach! I would guess the coast is the number one vacation destination of Mississippians in the summer. I just came back refreshed. That’s a big check mark in the “Take Family on Vacation” line of my parental obligation list.
The dirty diapers roasting in the sand are a distant memory now. I actually enjoyed myself, although a week is about the max this workaholic can stand on vacation.
As I sat watching the slate blue color of waves pounding the shore as the sun set, I tried to figure out just what makes the beach so special.
Waves, sand, saltwater, seashells, seagulls, sandcastles, young children laughing and playing, older couples walking slowly hand in hand, crabbing at night with kids and nets and flashlights. There are many components that blend together to make the beach scene uniquely relaxing. And, oh, that relentless, soothing sound of waves lapping the beach. It is like a siren sound.
We had three families in a house at Rosemary Beach. The children were aged 16, 14, 12, 10, 8, 7 and 6. You really got a sense of the breadth of life with such an age span.
Watching these beautiful children, I kept thinking about who I was at each of those ages. I can remember my childhood beach trips like they happened yesterday. Could it really be me, now the 50-year-old father, who is looking out from these eyes? How did I suddenly transform from child to older man?
As if on cue, two icons of my younger days, Farah Fawcett and Michael Jackson, passed on, further reminding me of the passing of time.
My college roommate had the famous Farah Fawcett poster above his desk. She was what we all thought we wanted. It was so simple then.
Later, I was in business school at UCLA at age 27. I lived in an apartment at the top of the mountains overlooking Bel Air and Santa Monica. I could see the ocean, miles past a vast wild canyon, all in the middle of Los Angeles. Life was good.
Before heading out on a Saturday night, I would blast Michael Jackson’s “Human Nature” from my stereo as I looked down at the lights of the city and the Pacific ocean beyond. Jackson, my age to the year, was on top of the world and so was I.
Twenty-three years later, we all sit huddled on the couch watching the great old videos like Billie Jean and Thriller. The children were mesmerized. They hardly knew who he was. Nobody could dance like Michael Jackson, not even Fred Astaire.
On Wednesday, we chartered a fishing boat. We chugged five miles out and starting trolling in circles around a weather buoy. The king mackerel were biting. Within two hours, we had caught our limit and had over 60 pounds of fish.
That, my friend, is the specialization of labor. In two hours, we caught enough fish to provide my family enough protein for months. Imagine the futility of doing that on your own without the boat, the rods, the knowledge or skilled fishing guides.
And that was just with rods. Imagine fishing with huge nets. Our specialization of labor and application of technology has transformed the human condition.
King mackerel is an excellent eating fish, somewhat oily which makes it succulent fresh and a bit fishy later on. Each fish was about twelve pounds. They put up a good fight, delighting my boys.
Grace Self and her two handsome lads, Henry and Wesley, joined us. Her husband Peyton couldn’t make it. The Selfs are well-known in the Delta and hail from Marks, but now live in Oxford.
Grace is best friends with our other vacation mates, Luke and Melanie Billman. Grace and Melanie played together on the Lee Academy 1980 state championship basketball team. They have been friends ever since.
It was a true blessing to hang out with three Grade A, pure-to-the-bone Southern belles. I had to smile at times and almost recorded some of the conversations just to listen to the unbelievably thick and beautiful Southern accents. I feel sorry for all the other men in the world. There is nothing like a genuine Southern woman.
Grace was a hoot. She had a different bikini for each day and did them all justice, despite having birthed three grown children. It takes a lot of hard work-outs to achieve that. You go girl!
Good times. One morning Grace and I spent several hours sipping coffee on the wrap-around balcony as the ceiling fans warded off the encroaching noon heat. She told me hilarious story after hilarious story about her 20 years in Marks. We both agreed she should write a book.
This weekend, I’ll be heading north to Carroll County with son Lawrence (John’s at Camp Windhover). We’ll stuff ourselves with perfect ribs from the barbecue rig of Dr. Jeff Moses, who I have known since high school. We’ll fish for catfish and swim in a tepid pond to escape the heat. Come dark, we’ll camp under the stars.
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