Waking up to blue skies the other morning, I sat on the deck nursing my coffee, totally aware that my computer wasn’t calling to me. My inner child, however, was making a huge racket. The beach! The beach! Let’s go to the beach!
I didn’t even try to resist the Siren’s call.
The tide was out when I got there, and I settled up in the dunes amidst the sea grasses to have a better view and catch the light breeze. The sun danced on the water and I inhaled the tang of seaweed and salt, deeply content. I wrote for a couple hours, then got up to take a walk. Leaving my sandals with my notebook and car keys, I struck off towards the water across what I quickly realized was very hot sand. I increased my pace. Damn! It wasn’t just hot, it was scalding! Forget walking. I broke into a trot.
Another 50 yards and I broke into a run … but it was slow going. My toes are blistering! my mind yelped in disbelief as I slogged through the deep sand. The water and cool relief seemed a million miles away. It was so hot even the damp sand marking the old high-tide line where cars drive on the beach gave no relief from the heat. I kept running until I hit the waves, fully expecting a cartoon-like hiss of steam as my feet hit the water.
I walked for about an hour, wading in the cool water. But my feet felt like burnt toast. The whole way up the beach and back, I kept thinking How in the world am I going to make it back to my shoes??? Maybe I could soak my shirt in the water and stop every so often and stand on it for relief? That was about the best I could come up with.
I approached my start point, staring wistfully at the far distant pile of my stuff up in the dunes, calculating the closest distance between point A and point B. Then suddenly an old SUV appeared out of nowhere, chugging up the beach. It stopped a little ways in front of me at the precise spot between the water and my stuff.
A woman with long brown hair got out and started puttering around her vehicle wearing … yellow flip flops.
Can I do it? Can I ask a complete stranger to borrow their shoes?
I could and I did. Without a moment’s hesitation the woman smiled, saying, “Of course.” Bending down she slipped off her well-worn shoes. “Here.”
If she’d handed me a check for a million dollars, I couldn’t have been more grateful. I trudged to my stuff, changed shoes and headed back to the car, marveling at how life had delivered me such a small but precious miracle. There was a 20-mile stretch of empty sand beach to park on. And she’d picked the exact place where she could be of service.
When I got back to the car, the woman was standing at the water’s edge, holding her newborn baby girl. She looked tired as only a new mother can look, and the baby appeared a bit overwhelmed by the energy of the sea. There was a story here—a long one. It wasn’t just the SUV filled with boxes and clothes. I could feel it radiating from her as I handed back the flip flops. But we didn’t go there.
We just chatted of small things for a bit and then I thanked her again and walked away