Winter Beach Respite —by Jinny Batterson
Just after New Year, we packed the car: layers and layers
Of casual clothes, plus assorted toys and games.
We headed for one of the barrier islands that
Dot the Atlantic from the Carolinas to Florida.
We’d spend a few days at the beachside condo
Of old friends, a final annual chance to reconnect
Before tax season swallowed them
And potential citizen activism swallowed us.
We arrived to balmy weather, with time for a brief
Beach stroll before sunset. Little view yet of the miles
Of downed vegetation and splintered piers and decks,
Remnants of Hurricane Matthew’s October impact.
It was after dark before our friends arrived, having
Battled urban traffic on their different trajectory east.
A brief political discussion gave way to reminiscences:
The guys had known each other since youth.
One afternoon proved too chilly and windy for outdoor activity,
But often we walked–carrying binoculars to hone in on shore birds,
Or exclaiming as our more experienced friends pointed out the
Dolphins that sometimes trolled for fish in the breakers at low tide.
A morning guided excursion took us through parts of this island
Once owned by Gullah families descended from slaves.
Before resorts and tourism took over, they earned decent livings
Farming or fishing or ferrying neighbors to and from the mainland.
Predictions of an approaching winter storm cut our idyll short.
Several days of shivering and stabbing at recalcitrant ice have
Partially diminished our relish for January in the Southeast,
But not entirely. Our beach respite memories remain.