A little – very little – beach philosophy

Sherri Gardner HowellFarragut, Kitchen Table Talk

“Life’s a wave. Catch it.”

I spent five days last week at Orange Beach, Ala. It was a surprise suggestion from my sweet husband, who felt my summer had not gone as planned – to say the least – and perhaps a proper goodbye before Labor Day was in order. So he told me to pick a place within 10 hours’ driving distance, and we would escape for a long weekend.

I picked Orange Beach because it is my second favorite beach, after Holden Beach, N.C., and because, although I have been several times before, Neville has never been. I had a feeling he would love the Orange Beach/Gulf Shores area as much as I did, and, I already knew all the best restaurants.

We had a wonderful time – relaxing, eating great food, recharging and talking about all those things that just seem to slip our minds at home.

I decided as I worked on this column at the condo and on the drive home that I wanted to write this week about Beach Philosophy. The cute condo we stayed in was over-the-top with pillows, all with beachy sayings screen-printed or needleworked on them. The walls, also, had the requisite wooden pictures and frames with beach sayings.

Sitting in the condo with the ocean and white sand out the window, they all seemed very wise and prophetic. I truly get re-energized at the beach, and the peace I feel as I watch the waves and feel the hot sun is real. Surely that gives credence to beachy sayings such as “Keep Calm and Beach On.” Great column idea …

I always feel a little disloyal to my spectacular mountains right here at home when I am mooning over the beach. I love the mountains and enjoy a drive through the park and days spent at places like the Chimneys and Cades Cove. But I don’t sit for an hour and stare into the trees or at the streams running through. It’s different with the ocean.

My list of beach philosophies was fairly long, most taken from the pillows and walls and others from shops we visited. Once home, however, and writing, I felt as if I were coughing up a mixture of Pinterest and Jimmy Buffet lyrics. “Call me on my Shell,” “At the beach, we salt Margaritas, not sidewalks.” “Ocean Air, Salty Hair, Not a Care.” “Let’s live on Beach time.”

The only one that seemed the least bit philosophical was on the wall of the bathroom at the condo. It said, “Family is the ANCHOR that holds us through LIFE’S Storms.”

I tossed the rest of the list. Like the sand in my suitcase, some things are only wonderful in their natural setting.

Sherri Gardner Howell, a former features writer and manager at the News Sentinel and publisher at Blount Today, has been writing about family life for newspapers and magazines since 1987. She lives in West Knoxville, is married to Neville Howell and has two sons and three grandsons.


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