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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Payson and the Seal

One day while we were in California, we were all relaxing in our hotel, just kicking it with cable television (an indulgence we do not have at home).  Earlier we had been swimming at the resort pool.  I had just finished making lunch; quesadillas, watermelon and homemade cookies.  The ocean view was just outside the window and I could feel that cool sea air.

“Who wants to go to the beach with me?” I asked, waiting for a handful of offers. 

Good Luck, Charlie was on in the boy’s room, Storage Wars was on in the master bedroom (a show the counselor really got into) and SpongeBob was on in the living room.  Everyone was content.

“Will someone please go to the beach with me?” I said again, hopeful at least one of my children would jump at the chance to walk the ½ mile down the coastal road, through the nature reserve and finally descend down the steep cliff hill to the beach, when my son Payson looked up “What?”

Do you see why I don’t have cable television in my home?

“Do you want to go to the beach with me?”

“I don’t know,” he says rolling over back towards the TV, putting another cookie in his mouth.

I didn’t want to go the beach alone and going with the counselor was out of the question.  One parent needed to stay with the baby and he’d already volunteered to do that (although between you and me, I think it was to see what Barry found in that storage unit).  I needed a friend.  So, in an act of desperation, I bribed Payson with s'mores later that night if he’d go to the beach with me.

My Payson, I don’t really get to spend much time with him.  Between school and basketball and scouts and his IPod and me always helping his younger brothers and sister, we’ve been like strangers passing in the night.  Yes, I wanted to be with Payson.

So, off we went, him and I hand in hand and in a matter of minutes he was thanking me.  We ran, literally, chasing each other down the coastal highway, laughing, stopping only once to look at an amazing spider web.  We crossed the road and started the walk (yes, I was all ran out) through the nature reserve of Crystal Cove.  It was here Payson started with questions from his 10-year old mind:
“Did dinosaurs ever live here?”
“What if a snake tried to bite me?”
“Do you think I run faster then Dad?”
“What if I got lost?”
And it was so sweet, I was so grateful because I think sometimes Payson gets lost somewhere in the middle.
How ironic!  Here's a photo of him in the middle.
I rarely answer his questions with more then a “yes” or “no” and “have you finished your homework?”  Walking to the beach, I had time to really think about his questions and laugh and ask him more questions back. 

We hiked down the sand cliff road to the beach and into the water.  We caught wave after wave, going under and over, splashing, rolling in the sand and running back into the waves again.  I wished the experience would never end, but eventually the sun did start to set in that beautiful California sky.

It was already an amazing experience; feeling the love of my child, the ocean water so pure as it rolled over my body, the health I’ve enjoyed, how my legs felt so strong when I ran in the sand, how my manuscript is currently being reviewed by a small publishing house (I just had to throw that in, because I am so excited that my manuscript is ACTUALLY IN THE HANDS OF A WONDERFUL EDITOR) but God gave me more.

I stood next to Payson in the water waist deep when a seal just a few feet in front of me popped its head up.  A gray seal, almost within reach!
I stared at it for only a few seconds, watching its eyes scan over me and I was in awe. I motioned to Payson just as the seal ducked its head back under the waves. Payson wasn’t able to see it.

“You saw a seal?” he said, a little jealous that he wasn’t able to see it, then his tone turned serious.
“What else is in the water?” he asked and we both got a little freaked out.  “Don’t sharks eat seals?”
I was just about in freak out mode, ready to grab him and high-tail it out of the water, but then I didn’t.  The sunset and the water and being with Payson was so special, that I remained calm, acting like it was no big deal to be swimming with seals.
“Payson, check out that wave,” I said.  It may have been a cheap shot, not really validating Payson’s shark concerns, but in a wave he was distracted and we body surfed another 20 minutes.
I felt so at one with the earth and my body and the water and my son.  I jumped up and down, so grateful to be alive and experiencing this wonderful life and thinking maybe one day before I’m 100 years old, I just might be a published author.  Then, it didn't matter anymore because writing my book and all the work that has gone it has been such a pleasure.  I write about the ocean because I love it, because it makes me so happy.

The moon finally came out.  The sky was purple and there was still enough light for Payson and I to dig for sand crabs.  We dug up hundreds, some the size of my thumb and watched as the buried in a furry back into the sand.  Payson and I looked like “hobos,” he so eloquently said as we finally walked back up the road of the steep cliff. 

“Where would we sleep if we were hobos?” he asked.
“Would dad be able to find us if we got lost?
“What’s for dinner?”
“When can I have s'mores?”

The walk home was full of questions, croaking frogs, the whistle of the wind and waves crashing on the shore. I thought of my book, my character Winona who loves the ocean and I was happy.

1 comment:

  1. What a wonderful day you got to spend with your son! I'd love to have those days back. (My son will be 34 next month. How did that happen?)