St. George Island was intact and simply beautiful for the ten days we visited. The expected oil was nowhere to be found though the thought, and conversations about it, were ever present. Long stretches of some type of barrier were being put into place to prepare for the eventual arrival.

The sand was clean and the air fresh – the water was mostly clear and bathtub warm but lots of sea-grass was churned about by tropical storm Bonnie while we were there. The last day the seas calmed down enough to really enjoy the water.  Only one day of thunder, lightening and rain but we enjoyed watching that too. Our beachfront house sat 4 stories high and we camped out on the balcony to watch the dolphins jump and play as they fed.  They entertained us for about an hour each day as they passed on their regular feeding route. No one commented on the dolphins other than how much fun they were to watch but from my own knowledge of them, they were much closer to shore that I expected. If that was a function of  the storm or the fouled waters further out driving them toward shore, I can only guess.

This trip was for my Aunt and Uncle’s retirement. They love the beach as much as us and we waited impatiently to plan this trip and time away with them. Peter spent countless hours tracking down this area and house we rented. While the trip from Illinois was excruciatingly long for me, it was well worth it. We simply had a blast! My Aunt is never called “aunt” because she has too many roles to be pigeon-holed with a label. As my Mom’s youngest sister, we are fairly close in age. I was even her chaperoned on her first drive-in date with her husband.  With over 50 years of history between us, we never lack for anything to talk about. She alternates between aunt, mom, sister, and best friend to me – depending on the need. Mostly we laugh – hysterically. For no reason. When my Mom was living it drove her crazy when the two of us would launch into those spontaneous laughing/crying episodes. In my mind, I can see her now – rolling her eyes at us as if to say “there they go again”. We pretty much can’t be trusted together in public without embarrassing ourselves or the unfortunate people in our group. It’s all good.

One of my old friends and co-workers from Gainesville drove up with her husband. It’s been 12 long years since we set eyes on each other. Thanks to Facebook we hooked up again. She’s still a delicate lil blond Barbie. Her husband, Jerry had real trepidation about going off with strangers but I think within 5 minutes he was at ease.  He fit right in and kept us laughing and having fun the whole time.  My Aunt and I cooked tons of real Southern food and carried it along.  We were both thrilled that he had an appetite to go along with his sense of humor. We loved every minute they were there. Yes I got a little misty-eyed when they left because the thought popped in my head that 12 years between good friends is simply too long.

Ahhh the food… fried grouper, fresh-from-the-sea shrimp. Though Pete has a propensity toward sea-sickness, he manned-up and booked us on a fishing trip. Hot day. Oh so hot day when we set off with the captain. Just the three of us chasing about the bay in a decent sized boat. Immediate bite – and catch for a sea trout on the first stop – then lady fish and catfish abound – plus one shark. Oh, P brought in a clump of edible oysters with a hermit crab hitchhiker. After 8 or 10 different locations we ended up with 3 beautiful sea trout, cleaned and frozen for travel. By our estimation we could be eating the finest caviar for the price we paid for 3 fish. The outing and the adventure… priceless… Thank you P for not losing your lunch.

On the last day the sea-grapes cleared out of the water and the dorkie yorkies got in for a swim. Each have their own life-vests for safety and we started them out wearing them. Our porkie yorkie, Milo has as much flotation around his belly as the vest so he tended to capsize. After we took off his vest he swam and swam like a champion. The waves would wash him in to shore and he’d turn back out to deep water. Rawlph’s long fur coat floated out around him like some exotic sea creature. He swam fine but really didn’t care much for it. Cricket cracked me up – she didn’t exactly invest all her legs in to the mix… if you lifted her from the water she only had one front paw paddling like mad. No idea how she stayed afloat.

While swimming is not her forte, she’s an intrepid hunter. At home no frog dares to enter her domain. No ground mole run goes undug.  She may have met her match when she went muzzle to claw with a crab nearly her size. She chased him under the house. Mr Crab ran amok for a bit searching for a burrow. Finding none, he turned to do battle.   Pete grabbed her just in time. The running ghost crabs at night made for great adventure, too.

We celebrated P’s birthday there. Unlike his 40th, when he asked for a weed-whacker,  he had no special requests. We decided on an island birthday, and searched the local gifts shops for fun things. I so regret not picking up the bobble hula girl for the dash of his truck. Jerry took the crew out for dinner. Another great seafood meal at “That Place off 98”. Neither the island nor Apalachicola had a birthday cake to be found so we settled for a frozen Sara Lee chocolate silk pie. That worked fine and we used a flashlight as a pretend candle.

Sigh.. I only have the sunset photos and pix of seabirds and footprints and people.. but now I’m back to work.  Spirits restored – creative energies flowing…

These flat panels are actually one and the same. Taken prior to the last firing in case something untoward should happen in the heat. That sun pot-melt was suspect and is being treated with caution.

Now it is slumped into a deep wave and on my mantel to remind me of a happy trip with wonderful people.