Oil spill? Enough already!

Published 1:56 am Saturday, June 12, 2010

I don’t like to listen to the news about the oil spill. I don’t want to hear the latest dire predictions. I don’t want to look at the horrible mess creeping up on our once unbelievably beautiful white beaches. I wonder if my generation can ever again enjoy the pure white beaches, the oil-free foamy salt water of the Gulf of Mexico we once experienced? What about future generations? My heart bleeds for those whose livelihood is affected by this horrible occurrence.

Reflecting on all this, I find some comfort in turning to happy memories of the past; of glorious days at the beach with my parents and my husband; with our children; with our grandchildren.

When I was around 5 or 6, I squealed with delight and bounced up and down upon approaching Panama City Beach, Fla. I couldn’t wait to hop out of the car with my sand bucket, shovel and sand sifter. I wanted to race down the beach and get my toes in the water. I dropped tiny shells of various colors in my bucket. I chased sand crabs that sometimes nipped my fingers when I caught them. I watched the sea birds with funny legs race along the beach. When I ran out of the water spewing salt water from my mouth, my mother gave me a quick rub-down with a towel warmed by the sun. It felt wonderful next to my body sticky with salt water and sand.

No matter if we stayed several hours or half a day, I never wanted to leave. Although I flew down the beach as fast as my legs took me, it was different on the walk back to the car. Holding my mother’s hand, I reluctantly plodded along, dragging my toys in the sand.

Every summer for many years, my husband and our children joined my parents at a cottage at Panama City Beach. We had to cross a pavement and pass through a big grassy spot to reach the beach. No matter how much we cautioned them, our children usually managed to pick up a sticker or two in that grass. It was amazing how fast they crossed that hot pavement.

My daddy got in the water a few times, but not like the rest of us. He preferred to sit on the balcony and read the sports page of a newspaper or just sit and relax. My mother always prepared a ham, turkey or chicken to take along with bags and bags of groceries. We all crowded around a small table in the cottage to eat. Somehow everything just tasted better at the beach.

I loved walking with my husband along the water’s edge in the mornings and late in the day before the sun went down. In later years, I watched our grandchildren experience some of the delights our family had during beach visits.

What a shame if our great-grandchildren never have a chance to store up some of those treasured memories.