My sister recently took me to see the ocean for the first time. The transition from Bumpkin’ to Beach Bum was a little rough. Beach life was sure to be different.
I chose to take a bottoms up approach. My feet were going to have to come out of my boots and face the world. Armed with the only bottle of nail polish I own, I revealed the plan to my sister. I would paint the little unkempt appendages and then apply some faux tanning lotion to my feet and legs. I was hoping for a miracle. She gasped when I told her the polish was white.
“What’s wrong with white?” I asked. “It is neutral and goes with everything.”
“White is only used to create fake French tips. You do not paint the whole nail white. Why would you paint your toenails white?” was her response.
Who knew? I certainly didn’t. Since when do farmers keep up with French toenail etiquette? After all, I had originally bought the white polish to see a former President of the United States! I was not escorted out by the Secret Service so I’m assuming he didn’t notice my boorish decorum. She offered to paint my nails for me on arrival. I bought some flip flops for $6 and considered the feet ready to go.
Moving up from the feet was the problem of the rest of my body. There are parts of a farmer’s body that do not see the sun, period. I decided to take a short cut on this one and just buy a swim shirt and some Bermuda swim shorts. This move paid off big time as you shall see. For the remaining ghoulish flesh I packed some SPF100 sunscreen, in hopes it would keep me from spontaneously igniting.
I was ready to hit the beach.
We took a ferry ride across the sound to Carolina Beach. It’s sort of like a stock trailer for humans on water. There was a sign on the narrow side rail, which incidentally was the only thing that stood between us and the churning water that read, “Do not sit on rail.” This was my first clue that perhaps folks at the beach weren’t really that different than those on the farm. We are all apparently totally lacking in common sense! As it turns out, the birds were the only ones not heeding the warning.
Soon I would learn that a similar sign something like, “Do not sit in waves,” should have been placed somewhere within sight of the beach.
The Atlantic Ocean opened a can of whoop wave on us. It was like a backwoods behind-the-barn kind of whooping. We grew weary against the waves, so we sat. That’s right, we sat, just at the edge of the crashing waves. We were tossed around like drunk crabs, legs flying everywhere, being drug in and out, and in and out. This might have been acceptable etiquette for two youngster, but two middle-aged women? I’m sure it was quite the sight.
“Why isn’t anyone else doing this?” we said. It was so much fun. We would soon learn the answer to this question.
We returned to our hotel room that evening where my sister found a sand wad in the crotch of her suit the size of a baseball. Several things became clear at this point. One, this explained her complaints about her rear end hurting. Two, this explained why her swimsuit was sagging. Three, this is evidence that clothing exclusively designed for women does not have any real thought of practicality behind it. Remember, I was wearing swim shorts, which turned out to be brilliant. No sand wad for me! This also brought several questions to mind. How did she sit on this all the way to hotel? How did it get in there? How will we get it out? What should we do with it? Some ideas came immediately to mind. Paperweight? Wheel chocks? Substitute for a missing Corn Hole bag? Have some beans and cornbread for supper and offer sandblasting services? We farmers are a creative bunch when it comes to these types of problems.
At last we figured out how to remove the sand; about half a cup. I guess that thing about "take only photographs, leave only memories" doesn’t apply to beaches. At least I hope not, or this one was surely a capital offense. Always one to look on the bright side of things, I thought to myself, at least her back side was well exfoliated!
In the end, I found myself sitting and thinking, on a beach towel this time. The beach wasn’t really that different from the farm after all.
People are still people regardless of where we live. We are all somehow drawn to nature. There seems to be a fascination with its beauty, and its unmatched ability to calm the spirit, coupled with a realization of its vastness and fearsome power. It turns out there are good and bad things about nature, whether you’re at the beach or on the farm. There are spectacular views, waves, shells, dolphins, dogs, deer, trees, grassy meadows, hills, fox and turkey. There are also briars, no-see-ums, jelly fish, sharks, sunburns, poison ivy, fire ants, and wasps. That’s right, good and bad exist no matter where you are. That realization made one of my favorite quotes ring all the more true …
I took the photograph in the background at the beach because it illustrates the point of this quote so well. Whose tracks do you see in the sand? (I found at least five)
P.S. I never did paint my toenails.
Would you like to read more stories like this? Please visit my website for more Mental Morsels with Dr. Cearley. Learning life principles from the farm.
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