We recently spent our traditional week at the shore with friends. The main topic of conversation in the countdown to vacation-time was that old standby THE WEATHER. Ideally, it would be perfect–seven days of sunshine, with temperatures in the low eighties. Was that too much to expect? Of course. But, being human, we were convinced we deserved no less. On the other hand, being realists, we would settle for . . . oh maybe . . .six sunny days. Yes, we could live with one bad day
Day 1, we got exactly what we’d hoped for–brilliant sunshine, the kind of sky they write songs about, and an ocean with waves just active enough to effect a gentle massage.
Day 2 was a different story. We awoke to a gray world. The forecast didn’t sound good, but nothing was falling from the sky and . . . what do those guys know anyway?
We started a game of Trivial Pursuit and planned to go down to the beach after lunch. We couldn’t resist furtive glances outside, but we refused to mention the "R" word. I know exactly what I was doing when reality could no longer be denied. I was trying to remember the name of the cat in the Walt Disney version of Cinderella. Should that really be an Arts and Literature question? (Sorry. I digress.) There were distant rumbles, growing louder, unmistakably coming closer. Within minutes, those soft rumbles were pulsating, kettledrum rolls that reverberated and rattled the filings in our teeth. I thought of Mark Twain’s description of thunder–likening it to a whiskey barrel rolling down a long flight of stairs. A perfect description of a sequence of sounds comparable to the finest symphony. It was a worthy soundtrack to the battle shaping up between sea and sky. Yesterday’s pastel Heavens had become a mass of shifting pewter coils that unleashed spears of lightening, threatening to punch holes in the sea. The ocean howled in response and waves reached up like an angry dragon. In short, it was magnificent!
It was clear that something larger than any of us was in charge here. We abandoned our game and gave ourselves up to Nature’s show. Compared to this spectacle, our little competition seemed trivial indeed, as did most of our other pursuits. The day was nothing like what we had hoped for or planned, but it turned out to be the highlight of the vacation. The perfect days have all blended together, pleasant but not truly memorable. That storm is what we talked about when we got together for the first time afterwards and I have no doubt it is a memory we will carry with us for years to come. In the future, when we reminisce about the good times we’ve shared, that one bad day will be remembered as a perfect day, a serendipitous lesson of what vacations are really all about. And the real beauty of it is that these experiences don’t have to be limited to a week at the shore (or whatever/wherever). They’re right here, waiting to be experienced any time we allow ourselves to let go and open our souls to the unexpected.