When I sat down to write yesterday’s post nothing was out of the ordinary. There had been a biting wind chill earlier in the morning when I drove the kiddo to school, and Matt and I had covered the garden beds with a large tarp the night before to protect the greenbabies from frost, but besides that there was nothing unusual. I should know better than to keep asking, “What is considered unusual weather in Oklahoma?” because the answer to that stupid question is this: consistency. Consistent weather is what’s considered unusual weather in Oklahoma.
It was nearly 90* on Saturday. On Sunday the temperatures dipped a little below 80*, and we got a trickle of hail (dime-sized, perhaps) in the late afternoon. Yet when I looked out the window yesterday morning I could barely see through the swirling mass of fat, heavy snowflakes. Because SURPRISE! (Here’s a crappy video I took just when it was starting to wind down a bit.) Even the meteorologists were caught off-guard.
Naturally, I became angry about the whole thing. It’s spring. It’s the middle of April, for cryin’ out loud! When this happens I tend to mentally transport myself back to Florida. My mother has described to me how fragrant the tangerine tree blossoms are right now. Her geraniums are blooming, too.
This is also the time of year when the ocean waters warm up enough to release rehabbed sea turtles back into the wild. I attended one of these releases on Amelia Island a couple of Aprils ago. It was chilly enough to wear a sweater – early morning breezes from the ocean and all – but what an experience! And it didn’t snow.
If you live in the coastal Georgia/North Florida area, or plan to visit, you really should check in with the Georgia Sea Turtle Center to find out if any sea turtle releases are scheduled soon. I lived in Florida for 16 years and seeing Terra-Tiger, a juvenile green sea turtle, go home was one of the most incredible things I ever did.
Last month I found a book at the Tulsa Aquarium about sea turtles called Voyage of the Turtle: In Pursuit of the Earth’s Last Dinosaur. I plan to read it when the weather is more conducive to pretending I’m at the beach. Or when I can actually say that it didn’t just snow yesterday.
My entire life until now has been spent near the water. The Great Lakes, the Chesapeake Bay, the Adriatic Sea, the Atlantic Ocean. There is no better sound in the world than that of crashing waves. As a matter of fact, I am staring at this photograph I took of a beach on Jekyll Island and listening to a nature CD that features such tracks as “Pleasant Beach” and “Big Surf”. I didn’t think it would ever come to this.
Aside from the slight bout of heat sickness I suffered two weekends ago, I was unlucky enough to catch some virus (or was it food poisoning?) that took me out last weekend, too. I came out of that near-death experience having learned two things: (1) no matter how old I am, I will always want my mother when I’m sick, and (2) sometimes there is just never enough water.
Water, and the knowledge that I desperately need more of it, has been the story of my life these past two weeks. Doctors told me years ago that I was chronically dehydrated. A therapist told me years ago that I need to learn how to relax. The solution from both of them? MORE WATER.
There are some days that I think back on this boardwalk and just want to give it a hug. I want to wrap my arms around its splintered steps and rusted, jutting-out nails and tell it I love it. I want to tell it I miss it. There is a whole different world at the end of that boardwalk and I sometimes feel a desperate need to return to it.
This isn’t about Florida. This isn’t about home. I think all of that has been resolved since my recent return to Oklahoma; all that struggling with the concept of home was for naught. For a long time I will probably refer to May 30th as my ritual hazing into this Oklahomans’ Club.
No. This is about downtime. This is about how I relax, or, really, about how I used to relax and now have no idea what to do with myself. The sound of the ocean never failed to soothe my soul, to bring down my anxiety even just a tiny bit. The waves slapping into the rocks at nearby Lake Hefner have actually managed to do that a few times. I can rely on the greenery outside for only so long as autumn surely makes its way in. And then, winter. Ugh, the thought of such a dreadful season makes me anxious all over again.
Do you have any suggestions for sun loving, winter hating, Vitamin D-deficient people such as myself? Short of lingering around the shores of Lake Hefner with the snow falling around me, I have no ideas. And, like most anxious, fretful people, I like to have a plan.
Arcadia Lake was surprisingly quiet last week. Elle and I headed out there for a swim on a Thursday, in the middle of the day, expecting to find a crowd of kids being entertained until school starts back up in two weeks. What we got instead was a near-empty beach and a genuinely peaceful afternoon. No complaints here.
It’s funny how different the landscape is from what she and I are used to. As recently as three weeks ago, all of us were playing at the beach in North Florida. There, the ocean floor is soft, the sand is its usual neutral tone, and the waves are tall enough and strong enough to knock me on my keester. Here, at Arcadia, the lake floor is rocky, the sand is red and pebbled in places, and the waves come only after a lone speedboat makes a harrowingly sharp turn near the designated swimming space.
The sound of crashing waves is the same, though, no matter where I am.
Our beach day in Jacksonville happened to fall on our last day in town. It was actually an additional day that we decided to enjoy before heading back to Oklahoma and I’m so happy we did. The weather was…well, as you can see from the photograph below, not exactly ideal. But when you’re at the beach, the last thing you should worry about is getting wet, right?
My family took off for the beach around noon and our ever-expanding beach party ended up including my parents, my daughter’s best friend, another school friend and her mother, and the second girl’s two brothers. It turns out the more kids you bring to the beach, the more boogie boards and noodles are available for everyone to play with. It also turns out the more adults you bring to the beach, the better your chances are of not having to be the designated surf-chaperone. My husband, I believe, is half-fish and spent nearly two hours straight in the ocean waves. He and my dad played designated surf-chaperones.
I took full advantage of this and spent most of my beach time soaking in the sun. On my University of Oklahoma beach towel, no less. I’m heading into my final semester and, at last, my school pride is starting to emerge.
I miss the ocean already – the salty air, the stickiness of the salt on my skin, how everyone’s collective sunscreen smells like coconuts. I can even appreciate the swirly I received since I had been suffering from some kind of allergy rampage. An ocean swirly is the equivalent of a Neti pot. You feel so good after the shock and awe of being tossed around in the Atlantic Ocean’s spinwash has finally passed.