“Midst 10-bedroom houses full of vacationers who for one week of the year don’t seem to mind paying twice the price of things close to home and trying what they rarely do at home, yesterday I passed a panting man muttering a mantra as he jogged through mist rising from hot asphalt after an afternoon thunderstorm, “I will do this at home, I will do this at home….” His red face grinned when he realized I’d heard him, “Said the same thing on New Year’s.” Funny how being South brings out the friendlies, compared to a buddy’s experience in Grand Rapids, where he groused just last week that women never respond when he greets them on a running trail. We were only two bites into buttermilk pancakes this morning when folks at the next table commented on my tee shirt and we began sharing stories; maybe they’re already missing familiar faces from home. We’ll probably run into them again soon, as usually happens on holidays like these. I remember you recounting a stay at the Wilderness Lodge near Lake Moeraki, meeting Bob and Deborah during a nature hike, and then two days later noticing the same Bob’s face as you ran through a park in Christ Church, ‘Bob’ you said, looking over your shoulder as he turned saying, ‘James,’ and so you ran together awhile.
“Drops interrupted an hour on a beach and in cold surf near the Currituck Lighthouse, then thunder, and we watched a thousand bathers rush over the dunes to shelter. Not convinced of a direct hit, we walked north, our backs to the storm like a child facing inland because he’s afraid of waves. A flash, 17 seconds, thunder, another flash 12 seconds, thunder, found us hiding under a boardwalk, singing like Bette Midler until the storm passed and large drips found their way through cracks in the pine. We threaded our way through abandoned chairs, coolers and beach towels to retrieve our own wet unbelongings.
“When they called and suggested meeting somewhere, and I mentioned the Outer Banks, it took a little coaxing to get my New York friends to try unfamiliar territory. Benny handed a picture of his namesake Ben Franklin to our Wild Horse Adventure Tour guide this morning, so I figure at least one of them is having a good time even after complaining about landing hard after the Jeep left the ground momentarily. He had whispered “I hope we get our money back” when he read the guarantee that we’d see at least one wild horse. We saw twenty-two, including three colts. Benny, from a dirt-poor childhood, now commands five-digits per opera performance. We have fun filling the living room of our rental house with voices each evening. The neighbors may not like it, but so far they haven’t complained.”
I’m glad Virginia’s having a good time at the beach. She hardly ever leaves the Valley.