Friday, September 9, 2016
I spent a lot of early mornings at the beach last summer. It was my perfect kind of summer, cool nights followed by foggy mornings. It didn't hurt that the cool mornings kept beachgoers away until at least late morning, long after I had already returned home.
This summer has been hot! The beachgoers staking their claim to their spot of sand real estate by eight a.m. I haven't been to the beach for even one early morning.
Things changed this week. Labor Day is past, the summer people have gone home, the children are back in school, and the temperatures are making a slow downward slide. But the best part is the overcast skies. I love gray moody skies and the calm colors of steely blue water. I harnessed up the grandpuppy, Findley, and loaded him into the car for exercise and socialization.
Last year I wandered with my camera looking for stories. I found remnants of stories, and if I was a fiction writer those photos could have been a springboard for some very interesting tales. But I am not a fiction writer and something was missing.
Wednesday morning when Fin and I were at the beach, I discovered what was missing - the human voice. I had hoped to gather those kind of stories last year, but it was always a near miss, except for the guy with the Hooked on Jesus hat who told me how he weighted down his wife's body and threw her overboard from his boat because she had Alzheimer's. I don't count that, that was just plain weird. This year with a cute puppy at the end of the leash, more normal people want to talk to me.
It started with a little boy named Henry whom Fin and I encountered on our way back from the pier. Henry was a tow-headed boy of two, wearing a fine forming-fitting navy blue life preserver. Henry had a tight clutch on his mom's hand, but as Findley and I got closer I could see him desperately trying to pull his hand away, the look on his face screamed excitement at seeing a puppy. His parents being good parents asked me if their son could pet Findley. Findley loves little kids and does very well with them. I made Findley sit and Henry moved close, eye to eye, mouth to mouth. Suddenly Findley's tongue darted out and gave Henry a sweet kiss on the lips. Henry giggled with delight. Findley sat, Henry petted and gibbered, while his parents asked the puppy's name, introduced Henry and told me how much Henry loves dogs. From the way Henry's hand gently stroked Findley's fur, that was very apparent. More people were coming along the pier so Findley and Henry said their good-byes, I could see the sadness in each of their eyes.
Shortly after leaving Henry and on our way back to the car via the channel, we came across two twenty-something girls trying to take a selfie with the Big Red Lighthouse in the background, it wasn't working so well. They saw me and asked if I would take their photo with Big Red in the background. I said sure, we'll trade, I will take their photo while they hold Findley, they said sure. So it came to be that Katie and Samantha had their photo taken at Holland State Park with the Big Red Lighthouse in the background, and Samantha is holding the leash to a stranger's golden retriever puppy. Katie told me that they were from South Bend, Indiana and were on a traveling adventure along the Lake Michigan shore. Girls after my own heart. We got to talking about photography, traveling and I told them I write a blog about traveling and adventures. Katie immediately whipped out her phone and wrote down the URL for my blog. Katie wants to start a travel website and Samantha wants to do a food blog. I told Katie to send me an email, I would love to hear about their travels and if they ate at one of the local restaurants I suggested.
This week I discovered that people are hungry to share their stories, they want to interact with complete strangers, they want to build community. What if each of us took a morning to interact with strangers and share stories? What kind of world could this be?