I have now joined the rarefied world of the winter vacationer. True, I never managed it when I really needed it when living in Wisconsin, land of deep winter and a deeper need to get away. True, it was only 50 degrees when we left Baltimore to fly to Florida. But even so, it was an escape to palms waving overhead, white sands and wide waters, a gift, a delight, a relief from the everyday. I have seen brown pelicans flying in military formation over the water, sandpipers hopping along the beach, and this morning, oh glory, a dolphin cresting through the waves right in front of our eyes.
A winter vacation is even better with kids. I had to come in the first place for a meeting. But without ready childcare, I decided I couldn’t attend at all…until I decided I could have it all – go to the meeting and bring kids along for several days in the sun beforehand.
After a weekend near Ft. Lauderdale (I feel a separate post coming on about our Everglades adventure), we drove to Sanibel Island yesterday. Helen, resident homebody, was sick of “new things” and refused to leave our hotel room. After begging, pleading and finally commanding her, we walked the five minutes to the beach, Helen pouting all the way. We stepped onto the sand and suddenly the girls were like dogs sighting squirrel – heads jerked up, nostrils flared, then let loose tearing towards the water, shrieking with delight. There commenced two happy hours collecting shells, digging holes, chasing waves, all of us living entirely in the moment, happy as clams (so to speak).
This morning we woke, breakfasted and headed down the lane with a bucket, ready to search, dig and play some more in the mounds of shells left by the morning tide. We roamed a good half mile down the shoreline, adding shells to our stash. “How do you find such good ones!” the girls would exclaim when I added my contributions, chosen for their uniform shape or even color. Their choices were often broken, with holes or flaws. I started to point out that these imperfections, but then shut up. Shell collecting is not a competition. Of course they were perfect. Or as Mei cried out, sifting through a pile of unlikely candidates, “I’ve found gold, absolute gold!”. And so have we on winter vacation.