Mid-Winter Break, Part 2
|Mary Wakefield Buxton|
by Mary Wakefield Buxton
Urbanna, Va.— Grief is like a boil that erupts in the heart. It can tear a person asunder. It is the true equalizer, everyone experiences it, and it comes and goes in life like bad weather. If one wants to maintain good health, however, it is important to learn how to deal with it.
The Carolina beaches that sweep from Wilmington to Charleston, known as the “Grand Strand,” were a good place for me to recover from the loss of a beloved dog. The first few days were cold and windy and as I did my hour’s walk on the beach each morning with the waves crashing into the shore and the gulls exploding in the air around me, I wished for spring like never before. Still, I thought the isolated beach was exactly right for a writer recovering from a boiled heart.
My wish came true. By Tuesday, the North Myrtle Beach temperature reached the high 60s and the morning sunshine off the ocean poured into my rented condo like melted butter. I, a piece of toast, sat on the sofa with my book of crosswords comforted by God’s natural source of warmth. As the sunshine burrowed into the deepest crevices of my stiff shoulders and neck, I realized I was feeling better.
Happiness came from simply feeding the seagulls. I would walk to the beach with a bag of bread crusts as the birds swooped in to take my offerings right from my outstretched hand. They were fearless as they dove for the bread, their feathers brushing my arms and shoulders in thrilling grace. Such joy comes from close contacts with nature and wildlife.
We went to a concert, “Hot Jersey Nights,” that specialized in music of Jerry Vale and “The Four Seasons” and hits from the 60s and 70s. Song lines from old favorites, such as “Sherry, won’t you come out tonight?”, “I can’t keep my eyes off of you”, and “Dawn, run away” took us back to an earlier time in America when I was in my 20s and 30s. The sense of déjà vu that period music ever lends is really enjoyable.
I remembered my first concert to hear Elvis Presley in 1954 at the Cleveland Arena when I was in the 8th grade. I was turned off by this experience because all the girls were screaming so loudly that I couldn’t hear the music. The experience gave me my first notion as to how silly females could be.
But as I looked around the audience during “Hot Jersey Nights” I saw in the passing years that we girls had turned into senior citizens. The audience was a sea of white heads and no one was screaming at the music. I suspect we were all just considering our good fortune that we were still alive.
South Carolina food of barbecue and seafood was delicious, as always, with many good restaurants from which to choose. I liked the low country shrimp best, even though flounder and grouper are favorites too. Coastal crab does not stand up to our Chesapeake Bay crab.
A memorable restaurant was the Horst Gest Haus, a German restaurant just around the corner from our condo that offered an accordion player who sang German songs as we ate dinner. Songs from an earlier era sung in German were as apt to cause teary eyes in me as the French and English songs from the same period of World War I and II. We learned that the musician had escaped from Communist East Germany in his youth and made his way to America.
The walls were covered with framed mementos of the German past, including a million mark note from 1923 that was the result of the terrible inflation triggered by reparations demanded by the West after WWI.
Every American should see that million mark note and learn what happens when a nation suffers from inflation. Many Americans today know nothing about inflation or its causes, or the suffering that comes about during such bad economic times.
The restaurants were half empty as the tourist season does not officially start until spring vacation when the college kids descend on the beaches like starving crows in a cornfield. A good time not to be in the area.
All too soon the week’s vacation ended and we packed the car to return home. I could not wait to return to the “Pineapple Palace” and “Lady” to enjoy a cup of tea from my kitchen perch overlooking the birds dining on the patio.
We all need breaks in life, especially during periods of sadness, and it’s good for the heart to get away to recharge batteries. But take it from a member of the “I Hate to Travel Club” . . . there is no place like home. Conclusion.