All The Joy That Is Mine Today

My Perfect Day



Today, while the blossoms still cling to the vine
I’ll taste your strawberries, I’ll drink your sweet wine
A million tomorrows shall all pass away
ere I forget all the joy that is mine, today

Probably few of you remember John Denver’s song “Today” (words and music by The Minstrels Randy Spark). It was one of those folk songs that spoke of love and forever, and I still like to hear it occasionally. Denver’s voice always had an innocence to it that belied the troubled man behind it.

If I could have one perfect day, just one day that I alone could orchestrate with no outside forces to interfere, I wonder what it would be, from start to finish. I’ve given this some thought, and I think that this would be my one perfect day. (First, I would have to preface it by saying that I would have no pain anywhere in my body so that I could do all of the things that I would like to do on my perfect day.) That said, here is my perfect day:

I’ll be a dandy, and I’ll be a rover
You’ll know who I am by the songs that I sing
I’ll feast at your table, I’ll sleep in your clover
Who cares what the morrow shall bring

We awaken around eight, completely refreshed and ready to go, with the sun shining through the window. The temperature is already about 60 degrees with no humidity. Corey and I breakfast outside on the back porch on strong coffee and fresh fruit: mangoes, strawberries, and pears. We drink freshly squeezed orange and grapefruit juice. Fresh gardenias sit on our table, and once in a while a light breeze drifts across them and release their scent while we relax with our second cup of coffee.

Today, while the blossoms still cling to the vine
I’ll taste your strawberries, I’ll drink your sweet wine
A million tomorrows shall all pass away
ere I forget all the joy that is mine, today

Then we have a long shower in our double shower (which doesn’t exist yet). Corey washes my hair, which always relaxes me. After our shower, we dress for a casual day, but we make sure we pack our bathing suits and towels. Corey puts some bottled water in a cooler, and a few Pepsis for me. I grab my camera and a hat, and we jump in the car and head towards the Outer Banks for the day.

I can’t be contented with yesterday’s glory
I can’t live on promises winter to spring
Today is my moment, now is my story
I’ll laugh and I’ll cry and I’ll sing

peaches-at-farners-marketOn the way, we stop at our favorite farmer’s market and buy a peck of delicious peaches, some ripe tomatoes for Brett, some peanuts for Eamonn, and some honey. I bite into a peach, and juice runs down my chin. It is succulent and I devour the rest, reaching over to give Corey bites in between. We are both sticky from the juice. I open a bottle of water and pour some on my hands and wipe off Corey’s face with my hands. He turns away because he doesn’t like the stickiness, but he doesn’t like the wet hands either. I laugh loudly and without restraint, and he begins to laugh too. I wipe us both off with napkins. It feels so good to laugh like that again.

A little farther down the road we pass my favorite gift store. We stop in, and I immediately go to the coffee mugs. Corey reminds me that we already have too many mugs. I find one with a hummingbird that I must have. In the meantime, he has migrated to the cooking spices. We wander through the store for about 15 more minutes, and then we get back on the road. After all, it’s beach time, and the temperature is rising nicely.

Today, while the blossoms still cling to the vine
I’ll taste your strawberries, I’ll drink your sweet wine
A million tomorrows shall all pass away
ere I forget all the joy that is mine, today

outer-banks-beachWe finally get to Kitty Hawk, which is the first part of the Outer Banks, and traffic is light because it’s a weekday in late spring, and school isn’t out yet. We find a place to park in one of the public access lots, and we walk down to the beach. The day is perfect: just a few puffy cumulus clouds dot the sky; the temperature is about 80° F, and the breeze is light. Sometimes the wind off the water can make it downright uncomfortable on the beach, but not today.

We put out our towels; we’ve already changed into our suits at a rest stop. We leave our cooler full of water and Pepsi on the towel, and we take a walk down the shore. There are very few people about, a family of four about 20 feet to our left, an incredibly buff and bronze woman about five feet to our right under an umbrella reading a book, and a scattered few others here and there. We start off to the right, scanning the shore for any interesting shells, finding only two this time, before we head back. I throw myself on the towel, feeling completely relaxed, and immediately fall asleep.

After about an hour, Corey nudges me and asks if I would like to have some lunch. It takes me a moment to remember where I am, but then when I come back to the real world, I say yes. We rinse off under the outdoor shower in the lot and put our clothes over our suits, and head over to one of our favorite seafood restaurants where we have a wonderful lunch. After that, it’s time to make the drive back home.

Today, while the blossoms still cling to the vine
I’ll taste your strawberries, I’ll drink your sweet wine
A million tomorrows shall all pass away
ere I forget all the joy that is mine, today

As we make our way home, I feel completely relaxed and contented. We stop by our favorite sushi bar, Sakura, and order obx_sunrisetakeout. When we walk in the door, the boys ask where we’ve been, and the dogs jump all over us as if we’ve been away for months. After we give the dogs treats, we tell the boys that we spent the day at the outer banks. They are both jealous that we didn’t take them. School, we remind them. We take another long, hot, cleansing shower. Then we sit on the back porch with the tiki torches lit and eat our sushi with chopsticks. I drink a Pepsi, and Corey has one too. And then to bed and each other’s arms.

It’s the perfect end to a perfect day. Neither one of us answered our phones or texted anyone. Neither of us got on our computers. We spent the day with each other and nature. It will probably be years before we have another day like this. It’s almost like something out of a song or a movie.

A million tomorrows before I forget all of the joy that was mine on this perfect day. Peace.




Everything Old is New Again


Kitty Hawk Sunset (L. Liwag)

The Water of Life

“Eternity begins and ends with the ocean’s tides” (anonymous)

I’ve lived near the ocean for most of my life, so of course, I tend to take it for granted. I remember when I was in graduate school at Virginia Tech, I brought my office mate home with me. She was from Wisconsin and had never seen the ocean, so we made a point of driving her to Virginia Beach to see the coastline. I remember how amazed she was to see the vast expanse of water, the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, the shoreline, even the seagulls and the sandpipers darting in and out of the water. It was nice for me to see something that I took for granted through the newness of her eyes.

Another time, a friend of mine came into town and wanted to see the Navy ships in person. She had been working on Navy contracts for years, but had never actually seen a real ship. We went on the Naval base and drove by the ships. She was amazed by their size, and fortunately, one of the carriers was in port. Again, living near Naval bases, I have always taken these behemoths for granted. They are quite amazing when seen up close, and she was very impressed to see something that she had only seen in pictures on the contracts for which she had been working for several years.

By the Sea (L. Liwag)

Nothing ever makes you look at your surroundings better than when you have the chance to introduce them to someone new. I remember the first time that I took Corey to the Outer Banks with the boys when they were much younger. We climbed the big dune and watched people hang gliding. Even though I had been there before, it was a new experience because I was there with Corey and the boys, and it was really wonderful. It was one of the first trips that we took together, the four of us, and we had such a terrific time. The Outer Banks are only about an hour and a half from Norfolk (depending upon traffic), so it makes for an easy day trip.

On the way to Kitty Hawk and Hatteras, there are several farmer’s markets, which makes the trip even better, especially if it’s the season for ripe peaches. Once in Kitty Hawk, visitors can go to the Wright Brothers Memorial, which is what we did on that first trip together. We also visited the Hatteras Lighthouse. It’s nice to be a tourist once in a while, because I had never visited these places before, so it was brand new for me too. Corey, the boys and I made several more day trips to the Outer Banks on the spur of the moment, and we always enjoyed ourselves immensely.

I remember another trip that I took to the Outer Banks in October, a long time ago, and it was an Indian summer weekend, absolutely beautiful—high 70’s during the day, mid 50’s at night, beautiful sunsets. I was having one of those bad falls, and the trip really rejuvenated me. There were no tourists around, so we pretty much had the beach to ourselves. Nothing is more calming than the beach in the fall and winter. It’s my favorite time to walk on the beach because hardly anyone is around. If you get up around dawn, the sunrises are spectacular, and the only sounds you hear are the birds.

I have always said that if I had the money and the opportunity, I would have two houses: one in the mountains and one at the beach. I would not necessarily spend time at the beach house in the summer. More than likely, I would spend more time at the beach house in the spring and fall when fewer people are around, when the beach is still home to locals, walking their dogs, and strolling in the surf at sunrise and sundown.

Adirondack Chairs (L. Liwag)

The beach in the winter has always struck me as the perfect place in which to write, but never having had a house on the beach, I wouldn’t know. I think that looking out on the water would provide a glorious backdrop for creative thinking. I have a few CD’s that have sounds of the ocean that I have used for meditation before, and they are very relaxing. In those two hankie movies, it seems that the setting is always a beach house with empty Adirondack chairs. I wonder why . . .

I still have dreams of moving to the islands one day and keeping a home in the mountains. I know that with the economy the way that it is, the probability of this ever happening is growing more remote with every passing day. Besides, what would I do in the islands anyway?

I had originally thought that I might like to open a book shop. After all, there really aren’t very many book stores in the islands. I think that Grand Cayman got a book store, but a small shop near where the cruise ships dock would probably do fairly well, but the more I thought about it, the more that it seemed like work. I still like the idea of opening a small bar right on the beach. Since I don’t drink, this would probably work out for me.

I could sell cold cervezas from a bucket to tourists. It wouldn’t be hard work, and I could sit under an umbrella. More than likely, though, if I ever do make it to the islands, I would just sit under an umbrella with a laptop and write, which sounds like a much better idea. I have no grand designs. Corey can work out of just about any port. The boys will be in college. I don’t think that the dogs will mind where we go. Tillie will like the beach and the water. The polar bear might not be agreeable to it, though.

Who knows? Landscapes change. The ways in which we view them change as well. We see them with different eyes each time we look at them anew, depending upon the circumstances. I just know that I am no longer anxious to spend my life in a place in which people drive Hummers through the suburbs, trample people to death in Wal Marts, shoot each other in Toys R Us, market Botox for women in their 30’s, think nothing of talking about trillions of dollars as if it were Monopoly money, promote DVDs of young college aged females getting drunk and taking off their clothes while obviously too impaired to know what they are doing, and on and on and on and on.

Sorry, don’t let me rain on your parade, but my Obama Hope high has worn off, and I’m deep into my What’s Wrong With These People phase, precipitated by the madness of a Utah state senator wanting to mandate that stores say “Merry Christmas” instead of “Happy Holidays” because “this is a Christian nation,” let’s not even begin to discuss just the Jewish population that he is ignoring not to mention every other religion, the horror of Black Friday, and the inflatable lawn ornaments that have sprung up all over my neighborhood.

I think that I need to go lie down with a good book. More later. Peace.