Today I braided our daughter’s hair. She is growing her bangs out, and they are at that stage where they are too long to leave hanging but still to short to tuck behind her ear. I attempted a French braid on one side to tidy the scraggly strands, and with her hair pulled back, her face is bright. I cannot stop gazing at her tawny tanned skin, and gold-flecked hazel eyes, and honey blonde hair against her crisp white shirt as she sits on her grandmother’s lap. She is golden and summery, innocent and beautiful, and I wish I could stop time, to stay in this moment of her childhood forever.
The sky is blue again now that the storm blew through. Palm fronds sway gently and white puffs drift across the sky. Morning is my favorite time of day on vacation. I sip coffee on the balcony while my family sleeps in. I watch the sky and listen to wind in the palms. Mourning doves coo, and in the distance, waves pound the beach. Across the street, a screen door slaps shut behind a woman with a corn broom. In a white crushed-shell yard shaded by palms and broad banana leaves, she sweeps her walk. Her husband pushes open the screen door, and it slaps shut behind him, too. He stands on the welcome mat and sips coffee from a curved white mug to be in her company. They do not speak, and their faces are smooth and relaxed as they absorb the quiet morning. Broom corn bristles swiff across red brick, and I love the scouring sound. It is rustic, and welcoming, and I am glad she chose the gentle broom instead of a roaring leaf blower.
It is our final day of vacation. I drink coffee on the beach, my feet buried in sand, in a low rainbow-striped folding chair, the kind with aluminum tubing and a seat that brushes the sand when you sit in it. Sitting in the cool shade of an Australian pine, early enough that morning sun behind me casts the tree’s shadow across the beach and into waves, I look across blue-green chop to the horizon. The wind coming off the Gulf of Mexico blows the brim of my straw hat up in front, and white puffs of clouds float over the sea. I think of Ernest Hemingway, and how well he wrote these waters in his Key West and Cuba days. I envy his fiction, that he had stories to accompany this backdrop, drama to set upon this stage. An excuse to capture this landscape in an art that transcends time. I wish, as I sit and absorb the scene, that I had such stories in me.
4 thoughts on “Vignettes from a white sand beach”
I think you might have some wonderful stories in you. Keep doing what you’re doing.
Thank you for the encouragement, Elise. I’ll keep plugging away.
Lovely writing, really atmospheric. I think it’s a great shame that today, books must be story-driven and full of action to be considered ‘commercial’ or even publishable (in the traditional sense). I could read prose like yours ’til the cows come home.
I think I’m going to frame your comment on the wall by my writing desk. Thank you.
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