Wednesday, February 24, 2010


Is your life full of empty pleasures?

Leaving days and days of cold and rain behind in San Antonio, my best friend for decades and I went to the 'island' armed with suntan lotion, beach chairs, ice chests, and a beach umbrella in vibrant colors of hot pink, bright yellow and sky blue.  We were looking forward to the warmth  of a spring South Texas sky.  What we found was rain, more rain, cold temperatures and fog - lots and lots of fog. Despair could have set in and been presumptuous.  We could have said the trip is ruined, now what are we going to do! We had every right to - or did we?

Maybe just maybe somethings are not meant to be solved.  Maybe we have to sit smack dab in the middle of them and enjoy! We had gone to the island in search of perfection or control.  What we found was that where we were was perfect just the way it was.

We shopped, we ate, we slept late, we watched old movies, a favorite being Stephen Spielberg's Close Encounters of the Third Kind.  You remember the one, where the aliens leave the space ship and walk through the fog and mist toward the 'earthlings.' We celebrated my birthday at Zeste  on South Padre Island with 'tapas' of soft shell crab, marinated artichoke hearts, a Spanish torta, quesadillas with pollo, with a finale sampler plate of exotic chocolate Truffles - Cajeta with Sel Gris, Ancho & Cinnamon, Wasabi Sesame, and Dried Cherry with Cracked Pepper. And an ending of a most amazing award winning Port from Texas Hills Vineyard in Johnson City, TX, and I will confess a slice of a perfect homemade Coconut Cream Pie.  A birthday to remember.

Listening to the weather on television offered little hope of sun.  Then realities of the blessed present moments bubbled to the surface and intervened into decisions to live right then, right there.  Live vibrantly in the vivid colors of our beach umbrella, live with laughter, live with joy, live without regret or despair.  As we did so events began unfolding that were extraordinary.  We went to a family owned and operated book store, Paragraph's Books, and found Sophie, the bookstore dog, sitting on the counter waiting to be adored.  We visited the South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center and found the colors we so missed in the fog, as we saw the vibrant pink Roseate Spoonbill, a  four foot Great Blue Heron, the Common Moorhen with a cherry red beak, a snow white White Ibis and a Snowy Egret. Later we found light in the fog at the Lighthouse on Laguna Madre Bay at Port Isabel and met the Kemp's Ridley turtle (the rarest and most endangered of the five species found in the Gulf of Mexico) at the Sea Turtle, Inc, Rescue Center founded in 1977 by Ila Loetchser, the Turtle Lady of South Padre Island. .  And we went to an annual Island dog costume event at Louie's Backyard, celebrating the human companion animal bond, Ditter Dog - Island Style!  And later to the Farmer's Market with vibrant colored produce of every description.

The afternoon ended with a trip to the beach.  We loaded the car in  DENSE FOG, drove to the beach, and carried our beach chair and rattan mats, books, snacks, water, and sun glasses in baskets to the waters edge.  We found several  fishermen casting lines into the surf, two young men sitting on driftwood with their laptop, and families walking, but there were quite literally no other brave souls sitting in beach chairs waiting for the sun to shine.  Upon closer observation it was soon apparent that people thought we were nuts. But we didn't care. We found it amusing. There was a tiny, very tiny, patch of blue overhead and we were going to be ready!  As the fog became more dense, two couples stopped and asked if they could take our pictures.  And so they did!  No doubt we are quite the hit for condos full of  'Winter Texans.'

But you know what?  We put jackets on and placed beach towels over our legs to keep from freezing.  We laughed hysterically as people walking down the beach towards us appeared to be aliens from 'Close Encounters of the Third Kind.' Proud of our adventure, we sent text messages to friends in colder climates, telling them we were sitting on the beach in a blanket of fog. 

We had been blessed.  We knew we had a choice - we could fight it, get mad, sit and pout and grumble, but we made a choice.  A choice to live in the moment - to laugh in the moment.  And these moments will turn out to be some of the most memorable of my life. Other trips to the beach have come and gone and faded in my memory, but never this one. 

There is not any situation that can't be handled with grace and a little laughter. Life is what you make of it.  This trip we found vibrant colors and sunshine...not in the anticipated places, but in the colors of fresh produce, costumes on dogs, colorful patterns of endangered turtle's shells, and the pink of the Roseate Spoonbill and the deep chocolatey red of a fine aged Port. 

Some things are not meant to be experienced or solved or grumbled about or merely tolerated.  Some things are meant to be enjoyed just the way they are, accepted, and experienced with the heart. Sometimes things that on the surface might appear to be disappointing can, with a change of attitude, become exaulted in glory. The fog held secrets that could have acted as a veil.  But joy of life and living in the moment cannot be hidden or lost in fog. Not if you don't want it to.

This was a journey I shall not forget.

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