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One Woman's Opinion

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Sea Fever

Mary Wakefield Buxton

by Mary Wakefield Buxton

Urbanna, Va.— When the world seems too much, as it tends to do these days, I ambush my husband, tie him up, throw him in the back seat of the car, and head for the beach.

This may sound somewhat of an exaggeration of what I have to go through to get the lawyer to take a vacation . . . but not much. The man has to be carried kicking and screaming out of his sacred office even to have some fun. It’s a cross I have always had to bear.

But when his complaints of some mysterious back pain went on for more than a month, I took action. A few words with the office manager, the lady who schedules appointments, and my son, who promised to cover any emergencies while we were gone, and we were off for a blessed week of rest.

We headed south to Cherry Grove Beach, South Carolina, where the people speak in oiled tongues and wrinkle their noses with every syllable. A friendly group, I have never met an unpleasant person in Cherry Grove.

No wonder. They live in God’s country, one of the most beautiful stretches of white sand, blue ocean and sky in the nation, and they seemingly have command of a sun that comes up and shines for all its worth almost every day of the year. They know better than to complain about anything, even for one minute of the day.

Everything had changed since my last visit over winter. Then, I was alone on my chilly walks on the miles of beach with my dog, Dandy, but now the beach was busy with all sorts of people.

I liked to sit on the lanai with my bone white legs stretched out in the sun and imagine who they were: college students from Clemson off on spring break; retirees from Pennsylvania worn out from a hard cold winter and ready for summer; young working families with toddlers from the nearby town of Conroy on a day off and a trip to the beach; little, old, dog loving ladies from Virginia on a few days break with their workaholic husbands?

I loved what I saw . . . dogs of every breed walking nicely on leashes, boys with shovels almost as big as they were, busy digging holes to China, girls turning pink in the sun with mothers hovering nearby ready with suntan lotion, grandmothers like hens opening coolers and offering sandwiches and drinks to their chicks, fathers pitching tents and staking out spaces for their families, teens playing volleyball, Frisbee, flying kites, running through the surf, laughing, happy, and most assuredly thinking as I was . . . “dear God in heaven, thank you, for we have survived another winter and summer has almost arrived.”

Nothing screams that one is growing older than seeing each year’s new styles of kites. This year I saw huge kites, almost as big as parachutes, sailing in the sky like gigantic birds and manipulated with hi-tech controls from the beach.

There were always surfers in the sea, boys of all ages that spent hours paddling out to the perfect wave and sliding back to the beach with perfect grace. They wore black rubber body suits to protect them from the icy cold sea of April.

The surfers were humorously contrasted with the red-cheeked, big bellied Canadians in their bathing suits who splashed happily in the sea, as if oblivious to the cold, almost as if to show us southerners who shunned the icy sea how weak and soft we had become.

Every so often an airplane flew overhead. “Bargain beach flip-flops for 69 cents.” I wondered how many flip-flops a store would have to sell to pay for the airplane ad?

Something new at the beach: Para-sailors flew by each afternoon, no matter how brisk were the winds, and carried high into the sky by a parachute attached by cable to a boat far beneath them. Every so often the boat swung close to shore to position the parachute so that we could read the message…a telephone number to call if we wished to book a ride.

No thanks. I watched as the parachute came down too fast (any speed to drop out of the sky is too fast for me) and dunked the riders into the rough sea before gaining altitude once again. Then, at the end of the ride, a Jet Ski towing a yellow raft appeared from shore to unhook the riders and carry them safely back to dock.

Too much for me. I’m content with a good book, the roar of the ocean, the cry of gulls, a dog at my feet, a red nose from the bright Carolina sunshine, some sand in my shoes . . . how nice can it get? 

A little sea fever is good for what ails us.


posted 04.30.2014

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