An Enchanted Day

Across our sixty year long marriage, when Ken and I find a break in our schedules we often head out for what we refer to as one of our “adventures.” We have some favorite spots. This past Saturday was such an occasion. With purpose, we turned off the agony of the devastation in the Middle East reported on the news, focusing our thoughts inwardly. On this day we were heading to Balboa Island, our first home as newlyweds and to which we brought our first new-born baby; It is a place that holds a lot of magic for us.
It was a bright Indian summer day as we began our walk around the perimeter of the island. I felt a wave of peace wash over me as we ambled along, admiring the glistening water and the boats lolling against their moorings. The elaborate Halloween decorations adorning the homes and docks added to the joy. Before long, we came upon a five foot tall sand sculpture declaring “Larbear’s” love for her guy. We grinned. How cute. About 100 yards further up the beach we encountered the actual sand sculptor at work. He was filling two tall plastic forms with wet sand while four little kids, probably under age six, were trying to help him, armed with their own little shovels. The parents seated nearby, nervously called out to the artist, “Are you okay? We can call them in!”
Smiling, he looked over to them. “It’s fine.”
Ken and I enjoyed watching his flock of helpers; one little girl was holding a very full shovel of wet sand toward the top of the form. The form was taller than she. As she struggled to drop her load into the form, it looked for a minute like she might miss. We held our breath, worried for her. But she succeeded! We smiled and walked on, reveling in the warm sunshine, hopeful to see a finished creation on our return.
Taking in the sights of the sunbathers, street artists, and passers-by, we boarded the ferry for the short trip across the Newport Bay channel. Suddenly the ferry’s horn sounded! Things got a bit too exciting as the captain of our ferry issued a second loud blasting warning! A youth a few feet off our bow in a sailing dinghy was on a collision course with us! At the last second, the young sailor was able to make a quick turn and missed crashing into us! Whew!
We arrived for lunch at the historic 1906 Pavilion Restaurant. It was the terminus point for the Red Car trolley of old that traveled from Los Angeles to Newport Beach during the early 1900’s. As the hostess seated us we remarked on the hubbub of people in the dining room. She explained that a 100th birthday celebration was just breaking up at the other end of the large room. Seated, we took in the huge balloon bouquet boasting its shiny silver inflated 100th sign. We couldn’t help but admire the crowd of forty or so people as they dispersed, from babies, to toddlers, to the elderly; smiles on everyone’s face. The day before, my sister, Jackie, our mother, and I had a lengthy planning session for our mother’s 100th coming up in January. I was mentally taking notes.
Ken and I lingered over lunch, entertained by the 100th- year celebrants as well as the spectacular scenes of boats passing outside the window. Our waiter was engaging and we three enjoyed chatting about high school wrestling and his son, a soon-to-be wrestler.
Eventually we paid our bill and left the dining room. On the way out we studied the old photos on display. There was an historic line-up of beauty queens in their long, old-fashioned bathing costumes. Whispering to Ken, I pointed them out, “They enjoyed their days in the sun… and here they are memorialized.” He nodded as he replied, “Indeed we have our time.” He was quiet for a long pause and then he observed, “Donna we are seeing both ends of the spectrum today, a 100th birthday marking a milestone near the end of a very long life, while those little sand castle builders back there are experimenting and learning as they begin their life journeys. It’s remarkable.”
I knew what he meant, that this is our time now and it is precious. He took my hand and we walked on. On the way back we stopped to admire the progress the sand artist had made. We could see that Casper the Friendly Ghost was emerging out of the sand while the gaggle of excited children had swelled significantly. There must have been about nine of them, all of whom, by now, were busily at work on their own elaborate creations. One little girl called breathlessly to the sand artist, “Richard, is this good. Is this enough sand?”
He replied with a grin. “It’s perfect.” As he went back to smoothing out his ghost.
I laughed. ”Ken there is a real life Pied Piper! He is not only creating a delight for we who stroll by, but he is graciously entertaining all those little kids in a very unique way.” My phone camera was in my pocket, but it did not feel right to insert myself into the scene by taking a photo. Honestly, it was just too precious. I needed to let it be what it was.
Of course when I got home I realized I wanted to share with you what an enchanting “adventure” we had on Saturday, and how important it is that we be mindful of all the beauty and joy that is surrounding us. There is so much pain in our world, I think it is important that we do what we can to alleviate it while seeking to strike a balance so that it does not pull us all the way down. It is still our time now and it is precious.
In retrospect I have considered the others with whom we interacted on our brief adventure. I thought how so many of them were making a difference, making the world a bit better. There was a young woman with a seven-month old Golden Retriever, Nash, a twin to our Ginger. We exchanged a heartwarming talk about our dogs with her; that waiter made our day better by sharing of his love for his son. We met Gary, a working artist with a paint brush in hand, who shared a photo of one of the 18 full length knitted coats his wife had created for him, his most prized possessions. Lastly, bearing witness to a real life Pied Piper at work, a man taking time to inspire children, all has to add up to the fact that each of us in our own way can help to make the world better, one little kindness at a time.
As I sign off, I’m including a few photos collected in my phone from other sandcastle, beach visits to Balboa Island and some of my own castle builders when they were young. I hope you have been the beneficiary of some enchanting interactions of late. Whatever they are, I would love to hear about it. My best, donna