by Donna Byrd
Bill and I were lucky this week. We were invited to stay the week of July fourth with my cousin Linda and her husband, Bake, at their beach house on North Topsail Beach. Several other friends were joining us and it was an offer we couldn’t refuse. Yes, I know that I live only a few miles from their casa (as the crow flies) and I tell everyone I live at the beach, but I don’t live on the majestic ocean’s shore, on the very edge of our continent. Sand and water are not in my backyard or front yard, for that matter. So to actually pack our bags and drag all of our “stuff” over for a few days to stay on our beautiful beach and be “real” vacationers, was a treat for us.
There are somethings that are different about staying on a vacation five minutes from home. First of all, you don’t have to pack too much. I was the ultimate minimalist because I knew that if I ran out of clothing or needed something, I could jump in the car and run home to get it. Secondly, I didn’t have to worry about who would water my tomatoes, peppers, flower gardens and porch plants. I could go home and do that myself. Guess what? I went home every day for a few hours to be a “homie.” I enjoyed checking in at home to do a few chores, only to return back to vacation land.
I love arriving at this particular beach house. I know I’m at the ocean because of the smell of salt on the breeze the moment I step out of the car. Taking a deep cleansing breath to rid myself of the real world, I stretch to unwind and shake my shoulders. I believe it’s time to leave my worries down by the elevator door. Pressing a button, I call the elevator down and begin to unload my car.
Now, this is where the magic of vacation begins for me. The elevator. Did you ever read C.S. Lewis’ “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe?” It’s the story of four children who are staying at the rural English home of a professor during World War II. The children discover a big old wardrobe in one of the rooms and while playing in it, find that they are transported to Narnia, a snowy, white kingdom ruled by the White Witch. Together with their lion friend Aslan, they conquer the evil witch and rule Narnia. As a child, it was one of my favorite books and I can’t help but think of it every time I press the elevator button. I’m going to step into the magic box and be transported to the enchanted sea kingdom of endless water and sky, sand and surf, sea witches and pirates, mermaids and sea birds, shells and sea glass.
The magic portal lifts me up and stops at the second floor. Pulling back the folding partition, I pause before I open the door. I know that it is the only thing standing between me and my land of enchantment. I savor the delicious anticipation and slowly turn the door knob. The beachy smells of the house envelop me like the hug of an old friend. Stepping out and leaving all of my things on the elevator, I turn left, walk a few steps down a little hall and the view hits me: sand, sea and sky, a rather beige, blue and white world where troubles vanish in the wind and waves. I love this kingdom and all of a sudden I have forgotten the outside world!
My days are filled with fun, laughter, a lot of beach walking, girl talk, sea glass collecting (I even found a few shards of Indian pottery washed up on the shore,) reading and catching up with some of my favorite people. Of course, for me, planning what to have for dinner is an important part of the day because in this kingdom, Thanksgiving is everyday! What is it about the ocean that makes us all so hungry?
After sundown, when the sky and ocean blur into one and everything turns blue-grey outside, we come in and join one another at the big dining room table. I love this table because so many folks can sit around it. Someone has put a Frank Sinatra station on Pandora and the mood is set for the next hour or so. The kitchen island is groaning with dishes we seldom allow ourselves to have except on special occasions; comfort foods and breads with butter and cheese. Wine is poured into generous sized glasses and we fill our plates with gusto. Dinner talk is of dreams and the future, the good memories of the past when our children were little and the cute things our grandchildren are now doing. It’s almost like dinnertime becomes a holy and sacred affair. We talk about the goodness of God.
Afterwards, we put on bathing suits and take our wine glasses out to the hot tub, where we spend most of the time looking up into the heavens, pointing out constellations and watching for satellites. In the beach kingdom the night skies never compete with outside lights. Linda tells us of the time she and her son saw the Northern Lights over the ocean. We know what a rare thing it is to view them this far south and all of a sudden, we realize again, that we’re in a magical place, a place of miracles. We pause with wonder as our eyes scan the vast universe. The black sky and pearly stars are almost within reaching distance. Heaven feels near and our hearts are full.
We come into the air conditioned chill of the beach house. I hurry out of my cold, wet bathing suit and put on my soft pajamas. The house and it’s inhabitants are settling down to rest. Crawling into bed fully expecting to read a few chapters of my book, I notice Bill is already sleeping. I prop myself up and try to read but it’s like a sea fairy has sprinkled sleeping dust in my eyes. I hear the rhythm of the rising tide and the before I know it, the new day is disrupting my dreams.
I sit up from my comfy bed, remembering where I am and I smile. The question of what type of day it is on the other side of the curtains, pulls me out of bed. When I pull them back, light fills the room and I have to adjust my eyes to the sun sparkling off the endless blue water. Walking out onto my balcony I spy a kite dancing in the wind above me. I make an executive decision and adopt it as the flag of my “Magic Beach Kingdom.” I shake my head at my own silliness and look over to the left. I see that one of our neighbors has displayed the American flag on the crossover walkway over the dunes that leads down to the beach. Remembering it’s the week of the Fourth, I stare at it for a while as it snaps with authority in the wind. Reality meets my magical world. I see the pretty kite come ride the breeze and shy away from the Stars and Stripes, dipping towards the ocean. “Oh, please let me wave over your kingdom this week,” it seems to beg.
I allow joy to rise in my heart. My worlds have collided and I’m alright with that. Hmmm…Is that coffee I smell? Let the day begin!
Here’s a little Table Talk with Uncle Billy IMG_1885
Here’s my Kite video IMG_1862
Here’s a link to Villas By The Sea, North Topsail Beach, North Carolina