The day did not begin with great promise:
It was an amazing, intense and quick storm. Thirty minutes at most, the winds howling, whipping and shaking the house. Later this afternoon, I discovered that the very heavy cast-iron charcoal grill in the carport under the house had been knocked over and dragged several feet. Phew. Knowing that hurricane force winds are a multiple of what we experienced…makes me think twice about that whole “retire to the beach” thing.
But as I said, it didn’t last, and within minutes of its passing, I could see figures making their way from the other houses on down. So it ended well.
Actually, it ended super-well because of the display nature put on for us in the early evening: First a school of dolphins made its way offshore, leaping past within easy sighting. Then a family group (of humans) standing in the surf starting ooohing, aaaahing and pointing. We plowed through the surf to check out whatever it was – and it was school after school (or one huge regional conference) of fish, flipping and flapping up, and often swimming so close to the surface, you could see their shimmery heads just so slightly above it. Rather thrilling and creepy.
Best of all, as we were standing, wading and walking, my daughter did a little jump, looked down (and as I was thinking great…we’ve gone all week with no jellyfish encounters and now on the last night….) and said, “I think…it’s a horseshoe crab!”
And it was – it scuttled quickly down there across the sandy bottom, but that’s what it was. Michael couldn’t contain himself, but nor could he see it, and nor could he get to where it was because it was too deep for him. So I hauled him up in my arms and slogged through the water, carting him like a battering ram until he could get a good look as it moved on, and believe me, we have not stopped hearing about it since. Michael is a tough customer – hard to impress, with all of his seven years of life – but this did the job. He proclaimed it “the best day ever” thanks to seeing a “wild horseshoe crab.”
School? More of the same – some math (school texts & some Khan videos to reinforce – “But I already know this! We learned it last year!” Me, noting the 7-year old who is now intently watching the videos on decimal place value, “Um…watch it anyway. It’s only 3 minutes long.” ); grammar; expanding what we learned about flight by flying a kite, experimenting with the kite and reading about why the kite flies and how. On Wednesday, we spent the hours between the time I thought Mass would start and the time Mass actually started at the Estuarium on Dauphin Island. So on Thursday, I had them remember back and make a list of the creatures they’d seen, and then each think of one question about any of the animals they would like to explore further. So they learned more about horseshoe crabs and octopi. I also gave Joseph a list of landmarks: Fort Morgan, Dauphin Island, Mobile Bay, a few others – and had him sketch a map from memory of where everything was. He did a good job, mostly, I imagine, because we are constantly studying the weather map while we are here at the beach. He also wondered if Fort Gaines (on Dauphin Island) and Gainesville, Florida (near and dear to his heart) are named after they same person. He discovered that yes, they are.
I considered spinning that off into some study on Aaron Burr, Alexander Hamilton..etc…but then I came to my senses.
I’ve been reading The Accidental City – a history of New Orleans. I’ve actually been reading it for a couple of months. As in, I read the first twenty pages, get distracted, then two weeks later try to start where I left off, but find that I simply cannot reconstruct all the French names, companies, government officials and their interweaving machinations and must start over from the beginning. Rinse and Repeat three times now, I believe. This time, I broke through the wall, though, and am almost finished. It’s a fascinating account, well done, and it’s weird that I’m reading it here on the beach after all this time – and reading about places like Dauphin Island and Mobile just across the bay from Dauphin Island and Mobile. More on that later when I’ve finished it.
One thing, one hope is certain: God awaits us, he attends to us, we are not headed for a void, we are expected. God awaits us and passing to the other world we will find the Mother’s goodness, we will find our loved ones, we will find Eternal Love. God awaits us: this is our great joy and our great hope that is born precisely from this feast. Mary visits us, and she is the joy of our life and joy is hope.
So, what, then, should be said? Great heart, presence of God in the world, space of God in us and space of God for us, hope, being awaited: this is the symphony of this feast, the instruction that we are given by meditating on this solemnity. Pope Benedict XVI, Homily, Feast of the Assumption
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