Monday, September 20, 2010

Something in the water

In June I posted about how the oil spill had ruined one of my favorite sources of inspiration. And once the oil made landfall here the week after Memorial Day, I didn't go down to the Gulf again.

I talked to friends who have houses or timeshares on the water, and they told me about the Dawn stations where the tourists wash off after going in. It just made me feel... ill.

I couldn't see it like that.

So I didn't go. All summer. For the first time in possibly my entire life.

And I've felt it. A sadness like when someone dear goes on a long trip--you miss more than just their voice, you miss being near them.

Last week fall activities started here, and while my daughters take ballet at the same studio, their classes are on different days. And the studio is too far to drive home during class.

So Monday I had the bright idea that my youngest and I would do a little mother-daughter bonding during this time. Right? 

Wrong. She was totally mad and pouty--she wanted to play with her Zhu Zhu pet. Then she announced next week would be so much better because Grammy would be here. (And would let her take her ZZ pet everywhere, I suppose.)

Still we dropped off her sister, stopped at the Fast Time to get her an Icee and then drove a bit further south to Fairhope where I parked and we walked out to sit on one of the piers and watch the bay wash in.

We were facing west, but it was before 5 p.m., so the sun wasn't in our eyes yet. She sat beside me, and I crossed my arms on top of my knees and watched her look out across the water. First she pointed directly across from us at what looked like a lighthouse and some condos down around Dauphin Island.

"That's where Daddy works," she said.

I guided her little pointer to her right, northward, to the larger buildings and towers we could also see through the haze and told her that was where Daddy worked. (In Mobile.)

Then she looked to her immediate right at the weathered, gray remnants of a pier that had been swept away by either Hurricane Ivan or Katrina. Both storms were pretty rough on the Fairhope-Point Clear area. We live north of Interstate 10 on the bluffs, so we don't get the six-foot waves in our living rooms during hurricanes.

Seagulls were all perched on the remaining piles that extended in a line out into the water. She thought they were funny all sitting there staring south like statues. I smiled and noticed how the sun lit up the peach fuzz that still covers her little chubby cheeks and down around her jawline.

Then she put her head down in my lap for a few minutes. "I'm going to write about how this was the best day ever and we looked at the seagulls and you hugged me," she said.

The oil is slowly going away, and the beauty is returning. It's interesting to me that although time has passed and we've missed our favorite place, its power to inspire is still so strong.

24 comments:

Rayna M. Iyer said...

You are doing something really right, woman. That little girl with one tooth missing has her priorities right!

Do give her a huge hug.

salarsenッ said...

I just got teary-eyed. Girls are interesting creatures, aren't they--aren't we?? Hee...Keep doing what you're doing. Sounds like you'll be all right. ";-)

Stina Lindenblatt said...

That's such a sweet story! :D

Holly Dodson said...

I didn't realize it, but we live not too far from each other it sounds like. :) I haven't been to the Gulf all summer either. Perhaps I should take the kiddo. This was a lovely story, thank you for sharing.

LTM said...

@Rayna: lol--yeah. She's my hugger, but she's also my drama queen. I suppose the two extremes make sense. :D <3 you~

@Sheri: I know, man! Little kids--I'm the same way. Thx~ <3

@Stina: Thanks! When I started writing *books* last year, she decided she'd do the same. :D

@Holly: I know! I saw that when I sent you that book. It's been a tough year, but I think we've reached the end of it. Thankful for a season of no hurricanes pushing the oily gulf in all our laps~ :o)

Morgan said...

Your little girl sounds so sweet! I vacation a lot in Daphne, Alabama, and luckily much of it was spared from the oil. Seeing pictures of places that weren't spared is just devastating though.

Carolyn Abiad said...

Your girls are such sweet things! They must get it from their momma. :)

Angie said...

Oh, what a sweet post. Kids are just the best. I'm glad you can still find inspiration there.

Matthew Rush said...

That was a beautiful post Leigh. Thank you.

Sometimes the power of nature is amazing. As ugly and horrible and irresponsible and just plain evil as the spill and all that caused it was, it does give me hope to think that one day, sometime in the distant future, mankind and society and capitalism will all be gone, and nature will have returned the earth to it's former beauty. To how it was before we made our feeble little attempt to destroy it.

Melissa J. Cunningham said...

Beautiful post. Very poignant. Thank you for sharing it. I'm so glad it's finally clearing up. I love the ocean too. It calls to me, but I'm stuck here in Utah. It's beautiful here, but the crash of the waves and the smell...hmmm

Julie Musil said...

Oh my gosh, your daughter made me cry! What a special moment, for both of you.

Julie Musil said...

Forgot to mention I can relate about those darn Zhu Zhu pets. My younger sons love those things!

RaShelle said...

Hi Leigh - I have a DQ (drama queen)too. She's a teenager though. I adore her as well. Kids are awesome, even when they're driving you crazy. LOL. It must be hard to see the devastation of the hurricanes and the oil spill. Glad you were still inspired. xoxo

Creepy Query Girl said...

awe. I'm glad the oil is clearing up and yes, places we've seen hundreds of times still have the power to inspire- thank god. Glad you had a good day with your little one! She sounds adorable:)

LTM said...

@Morgan: Wow! You'll have to let me know next time you're in town! Yep, north of the Gulf (we're on the bay), we had a few days of smells, but not a lot of visuals. They say it's out there, but we don't see it...

@Carolyn: lol! We all have our moments... :D

@Angie: It's coming back~

@Matt: It sure *seems* resiliant anyway. They keep saying it's still bad, and I can't imagine how the magnitude of what happened could just go away. Just like that. ... I'm w/you, though. Ask me how I feel about drilling in the Gulf. ;p

@Mel: You have to come for a visit. Yes to all those things: crashing, smells, don't forget the turquoise~

@Julie: Awww!!! She makes me cry. :D OMG, ZZ pets are no longer allowed in the car. I threatened to throw one in the bay last week. ;p

@RaShelle: sigh. You're back! Yay! I can't even imagine what her teen years will be like. :D So far no hurricanes, so we're good. Those you tend to take for granted around here. Nobody expects a black tide. :o\ <3

LTM said...

@Katie! it's true--she is a funny little girl. ;p I don't know where we are in the "recovery" but it's looking better for whatever that's worth. I got a kick out of her "writing" about the day. Hmmm... genes? ;p

Hart Johnson said...

Oh, that is so sweet! It's funny, with two kids... the older (of mine) is angry I don't have tons of time for just her, and when she gets it, she acts entitled. The younger is so UNUSED to mom time, that he has often just been really sweet and pleasant about it...

Jen said...

What a cutie... what an adorable story as well! It's nice to see that inspiration isn't lost even in all the devastation, if you pay attention you can still see the beauty. Disasters bring people closer together, and even your little one was happy :)

Summer Ross said...

I receive a similar reaction when I try one on one time with my youngest- This post was beautifully done. I actually wished to be there in the moment with the sun shining on chubby cheeks. :)

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

There is something so primal about nature that speaks to us. Especially when we hole up in our daily lives and routines (which all good, but there is something missing there). I used to live in (like, literally IN) the Rocky Mountains. It was like a daily dose of serene.

Vicki Rocho said...

I love those moments with the kids! I often wonder what the kids are going to remember when they're older.

LTM said...

@Tam: that's exactly my house. #2 is actually far more interested in keeping up w/#1--who's always after me... :D

@Jen: it is an amazing, inspiring place. It's cool to see the little ones dig it~ :o)

@Summer: I love those. And the little chubby hands... Aww! :o)

@Susan: ooo! I would LOVE that. And you're so right~

@Vicki: Me too. I try to remember things that happened to me in comparison to reality (or what must've been) and it's funny... :D <3

~Nicole Ducleroir~ said...

Thanks for putting this beautiful image before my mind's eye. It's left me smiling.

Hope you're having a great week!
((hugs)) Nicole

Stephen Tremp said...

Now this is a warm and fuzzy story. And my daughters love Zhu Zhu pets too. The crazy noises those litthe things make crack me up.

Stephen Tremp