On an island

Photo: Darren Barnes
Photo: Darren Barnes

Once a year my family would trek to the Eastern shore, and it would undoubtedly involve a day-trip to Assateague Island National Seashore. My parents equated it with wide swaths of generally unpopulated beach. I associated it with flies, angry ponies, and the time I fell in a swamp trying to reach a dollar bill.

It wasn’t until I got older, and some of the very people who made such trips with us were gone, that I realized the magic of that particular beach.  The freedom of paddling through sand dunes.  Wading into the bay to dig up fresh clams. The sense of wonder that comes from being able to get up close to such wild animals. Screaming when stepping on a horseshoe crab, then realizing it meant you no harm and making peace with it.

And even those damn flies.

As I walked to lunch Downtown with a colleague and the stormy wind blew, it smelled, for a second, of the salty air that I remembered from the shore as a kid. Those always seemed like the worst days — at first. If it rained, we couldn’t play in the sand because it wouldn’t pack, the waves would be too big and full of sharks (in my mind) and we would likely be forced to go shoppingblech.

But it was always a sign of summer; a storm happened almost once a trip and it more often led to having the windows open and smelling the salty air whipping around. That’d lead to running outside to jump in puddles and beat the spurts of rain to get some taffy. My parents, I learned as I got older, were surprisingly cool. And often the ones leading these little chases. After the storm, an immense sea-shell hunt would ensue.

So when I came across an email from the the Department of Interior with a link of the posted above photo of the lighthouse today, I couldn’t resist.

In a week where it’s hard to see the good in a situation, it helps, I’ve found, to remember the good, the silly or even the seemingly inconsequential moments of the past, to find comfort for today. Even if its just a breeze from a passing bus that smells like salt-water, or the memory of falling in a swamp.

Happy Friday.

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