Posted in Family, Travel

Waves by Ginger Keller Gannaway

Waves

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Emile, Mom, Ginger, Dad at beach, 1959

 These days, except for the triple-digit temperatures, it doesn’t feel like July. COVID19 has stolen the summer tradition of family vacations for many people. I have been looking back at my childhood and our yearly trips to the Florida beach.

     In 1964 I held Kelly’s left hand in my right and Gayle’s right in my left. In our new two-piece bathing suits we faced the bright white Florida shore with our backs to the Gulf of Mexico. Gayle and I stood in thigh-high water while Kelly jumped up and down so that the water went from her waist to her thighs. Our game was simple. Keep your head straight ahead and do not turn around to see the approaching surf. Listen for the sounds of the breaking waves and be ready to jump when the salt water slapped your backside. Also, do not break the holding-hands chain! I tightened my grip on Kelly’s hand as the four-year-old continued to bounce up and down like a human Tigger. “Stay still,” I said. “You need to concentrate and listen.” Kelly started to jump higher and shake her skinny hips.

“She loves you! Yeah, Yeah, Yeah,” sang Kelly.

Gayle echoed, “Yeah,Yeah, Yeah!”

I pulled and squeezed Kelly’s hand as our middle sister said, “We gotta be ready, y’all!” Kelly continued singing, but in a hesitant whisper of a voice. I held my breath to focus on the sounds behind us eleven seconds before the rushing roar of the waves announced water higher than all three of us. The wave pounded over our heads and all we knew was water. We screamed in unison as the frothy water pushed us forward and roared its dominance. We all lost our balance and our feet left the sand. Gayle and I stayed connected, but Kelly got pulled away and sent rolling in the surf. She got a mouthful of salt water and the waves sent her face into the sand. I rushed to Kelly’s rescue, dragging my other sister with me. I reached for my youngest sister’s arm, but my fingers squeezed a long ponytail instead. I yanked the dark chunk of hair over my head and pulled her to her feet. Her bikini top was askew and covered only one nipple. Kelly was too shocked to cry and reached for my waist to steady herself. I released her hair and Gayle reached over to help keep Kelly standing. With both Kelly’s arms around my waist and a wiggling Gayle on the other side, I did my best to walk my sisters to the shore. Soon we all three sat on dry sand.

beach with Stoneciphers
Beach trip in 1959 with the Stoneciphers

 

“I ’bout drowneded,” sputtered Kelly as Gayle said, “You ok now.” I sat in the middle and placed an arm around each sister. Together we looked at the watery wildness we had escaped. After thirty seconds of concentration on the power of nature and the suddenness of disaster,  Kelly stood to straighten her bathing suit. “Let’s build a sand castle,” she said as she walked to the beach chair Mom was sitting in. (Momma had been too preoccupied with rubbing baby oil on her legs to witness her daughters’ water misadventure). Gayle followed Kelly, but I stayed there staring at the waves. Just a couple of minutes before I had feared for my little sister’s life! I closed my eyes and breathed in and out, in and out.  A helicopter moved overhead and pulled a banner that proclaimed the freshness of “Dougie’s Shrimp Baskets.”

beach 1972
Ginger, Kelly, Gayle and Momma at beach in 1972

I stared at the pounding water on the shore four feet in front of me.  The steady rush of water as it spread over the hot sand and the wave’s retreat into the gulf hypnotized me. How could the water have such power?  It was loose and liquid and allowed kids to float atop it. It called out to folks to join in its cool beauty, its wild excitement, its thrilling danger. I closed my eyes and listened to rhythmic sounds that soothed me until I decided to help my sisters with sand castle creations.

Papa and Evan at beach
PaPa and Evan at the Beach, 1999

 

Posted in Travel

Missing My Port Aransas

Every year around my birthday, I plan a trip to the beach.  There’s something so peaceful and predictable about the ocean and its natural habitat.   This year will be different because of circumstances beyond our control, but as Jon Kabat-Zinn said:

“You can’t stop the waves…. but you can learn to surf.”

Take a look at a few of my favorite photographs from last year in Port Aransas.

Blessings to you all

 

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Posted in Travel

Come Home to Maine

Come Home to Maine

 

Come Home to Maine:    

My fascination with Maine began some twenty years ago.  The beauty, grandeur, and peace among the rustic, sometimes unsettling landscape, intrigues me and draws me there like a long, lost love.  It beckons me to breathe its scent and feel its sturdy ground beneath my feet.  Maine lures me in with the promise of filling my soul and never disappoints….never.

Even as I write, we are traveling toward Maine.  We’ve driven from Virginia through Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut, and Massachusetts.  The snow is still piled along the highway and dots the countryside in patches.  It’s cold and dank, as some would say.

We finally arrive in Prospect Harbor Maine.  The tiny village has a filling station/grocery where we make one last stop before our new home for a few days.  There are houses along this long road, some boarded up from their long winter’s nap and others have a light on and smoke curling from the chimney.

Our home for the next five days is the Prospect Harbor Lighthouse.  It is located on a naval base and we are met at the razor wire gate by a guard, who after checking ID’s, waves us in.   We are staying in the old lightkeeper’s house just a few feet away from the lighthouse itself.  The house is more than we could have hoped for; quaint, well appointed, warm and inviting.  Thanks to the naval base, it has been well maintained through the years and treated with love and respect.

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The light from the lighthouse cycles on every 10 seconds or so.  Last night, standing out in the frigid wind, we watched as the light cast its spell onto the water and into the dark unknown ocean.  The light both welcomes you and warns you of the rocky shore.  The Maine coastline is littered with dark rocks and seaweed.  The waves crash into the rocky shore like a rhythmic beat orchestrated by the pull of the moon.  The gulls and herring are searching for food and fly low dipping in for fish or excavating clams for a delicious bite.  They appear always hungry and needy and searching….constantly searching for that next meal.

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It is snowing again and the flakes are large and pillowy, floating down and dancing criss-cross through the sky.  The air smells fresh and as we step outside, we are in nature’s own walk-in freezer.  Each branch, rock, roof top and road is sprinkled with a layer of crystals and ice.DSC_0135

 

Every time I go for a walk down a silent trail or stop to admire the occasional sea village, I am in awe of the simplistic beauty.  The lobster boats and the people working the traps, both mirror a weathered look.  Their outer shells creased and colored by the sun and sea.  Their strong, classic lines forever changed by the wind.  It is a harsh life they have chosen.  At nature’s mercy, they strive each day to complete their tasks and feed their tables.

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What more can I say about my Maine?  It is my heart-home.  My descriptions only begin to touch the surface, but it’s what my soul feels when I am here, that tells the true story.  Every glorious creation is here.  Everything clean, fresh, mild, harsh, bright and dark….so lovely, yet so lonely….restless yet tranquil.
Perhaps you will see for yourself.  That is my solemn wish for you….take a chance, pack a bag and come home to Maine.

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Posted in Friendship, Travel

Top 10 Vacations by Ginger Keller Gannaway

Top 10 Favorite Vacations

I love, love,love to travel with family and friends.   Here go my favorites using the “Six Word Memoir” approach.

  1. Pensacola Beach:  Waves of sun and seafood smilesBEACH2

2. Big Bend: Desolate hikes intrigue 4 adventurous boys.

3.Yosemite: Heavenly balance connects green with gray.yosemite1

4. Gubbio, Italy: Pasta, gelato, wine paint our walks.GUBBIO

5.New York City: Stage lights amid millions of stories.nyc

6. Granada, Spain: Palace of mystery joins summer souls.SPAIN

7. New Orleans: Jazzy bursts of decadently spicy timesnola

8. Hawaii: Sun-shaded eyes sip umbrella-clad cocktails.

9.Haciendas Las Trancas, Mexico: Free-time, fiesta, food fireworks for friends!mexico.jpg

10. Neal’s Cabins on Frio River: Kids share frigid splashes of drama!neals

Laignappe:  Keller Camp at Indian Village: Diggin’ sand bar Good Times, Cha!

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What are your favorite vacation spots??