Saltwater and Soul

"Bring me the sunset in a cup."

--Emily Dickinson

I grew up on the Gulf Coast of Texas. When I was small, I remember my mother and her best friend Connie shoving a whole bunch of kids, towels, zinc oxide, and snacks into Connie's trusty old station wagon. If I was lucky I would get to sit in the very back, on the bench seat that faces backwards, where you can watch the road vanishing right in front of you. Somehow that means you get there faster. That's always what I thought, anyway.

Once we got to the beach, our moms would unpack all the goodies and all of us kids would immediately jump into the water. We had been coated in sunscreen and warned not to swim out of sight. Our moms would sit and dish and yell at us as needed, if we got too far away. And then when we were exhausted and starving, a magical buffet of food would appear. There's nothing better on earth than a peanut butter and honey sandwich that's been sitting in the sun for hours. The honey and peanut butter get so warm they meld with the (by then) gooey white bread, and when you unwrap it, the neverending wind sprinkles sand into it, and it's a little crunchy. You know you're eating sand, but you're okay with it, because you're starving and you can't imagine anything better. Nearby there's an open bag of Cheetos and some cold watermelon and icy soda to wash it all down. Nothing ever tasted better.

We would stay til sunset. And then we would rinse our feet with gallons of tap water that our moms had put into Tupperware containers, so that the old station wagon wouldn't be TOO sandy once we got back into it, and then we would fall asleep on the drive home. Knowing that we would do it all again next weekend.

That's what goes through my mind when I think of the beach in Corpus Christi. It isn't a particularly pretty beach. It isn't even in Corpus, actually. It's on Padre Island. But it was so close we considered it ours. It's very windy--one of the windiest places in the nation--and the water isn't usually clear or even blue, and the shore is frequently covered in unpleasant giant mounds of seaweed and tar. There's so many beaches that are so much prettier that people make a face when I mention it. Yes, people, I know.

But when my childhood friend asked me if I would go back, even though I haven't lived there in over fifteen years, I said yes. She lives in Boston now but she was back in Corpus for a family reunion. She brought her husband, her kids, her extended family and her friends. (Her friends' pics will be in another blog. ;-))  It was a large group and it was a hectic shoot, and then when we got to the beach, it was hard to convince three energetic little boys that they should fight sun and sand and wind and somehow smile for the lady with the camera.

But I think there's magic in that sand. And I think they realized it.

According to Thomas Wolfe, you can never go home again. Never step into the same water twice.

I beg to differ.

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A day in the life of Ghost Creek Ranch

I am not much of a nature girl. The Great Outdoors and all that. I like to leave that to people who enjoy camping, and bird-watching, and climbing real rock walls. (Not the kind you find in a gym. Although you won't find me there either.) I admire and respect all that, but it isn't my gig.

I'm a housecat by nature.

However, when I was invited to Ghost Creek Ranch in Bandera, Texas, I decided to make an exception. They have a fabulous barn/bar/theater combo and a hot tub and a chicken coop and neon signs and horses and dogs and ponds and it was a bit like they were introducing me to civilization in a way I never imagined. Perhaps the way it should be?  I was ankle-deep in a muddy horse field (and I was informed, when I was barefoot and already halfway in, that it wasn't JUST mud I was wading through) and I thought hey, people pay money for this kind of thing. Maybe this as close as I'll ever get to nature. This is REAL. Maybe this is a good thing. I'm sure I have ancestors who waded through their fair share of honest mud...and horse droppings. I can do this. This is LEGIT!

It was incredibly hot, and I was incredibly (horrifyingly) sweaty, but you know what? I'm not in any of the photos. You're welcome. And the people who ARE in the photos? Such good sports. You literally can't see them sweat. They gracefully dealt with this graceless urban girl on their beautiful ranch in God's Texas hill country.

And they smiled as if they knew something I don't.

They may not be wrong.