Beach Week - One Love, One Ocean

On April 20th, 2010, the DeepWater Horizon Oil Rig located off the coast of Louisiana exploded, thus beginning the massive ongoing oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico that is the largest offshore spill in U.S. history. On June 5th, the oil made landfall at Gulf Shores, in the form of tarballs and patches of dark sludge that marred the beautiful sugar white beaches of the Alabama coast. When faced with the news of this tragedy, we decided as a family to keep our reservations for June 23rd. Despite a reported lag in sales and occupancy at some resorts and restaurants, we were resilient, and hopeful that we could spend enjoyable time at the beach.

We arrived to the beauty of the Gulf, with considerably less tourists gracing it's shore. In the mornings, the beaches are as gorgeous and inviting as ever, soft white sand underfoot and calm blue-green ocean waves flowing. But a look at the boardwalk tells you something is amiss, as the bright red danger flag waves wildly overhead. It's not there to warn of high waves, or dangerous undercurrent; Instead, it's there to tell the travelers that our beloved ocean is no longer safe to swim in, as oil is present in the water. By the time you wake up in the morning, the oil cleanup crews have finished working tirelessly on the shore, cleaning up any evidence of oil. But all the efforts can't stop what inevitably happens by the early afternoon....drops of oil gleaming under the sun begin to wash up onto the coast. A sheen of yellow oil coats the once bright blue sea waters. By early evening, the small tarballs have been replaced by large, oily globs. Oil drenched sand crabs scurry slowly across the dunes. Seagulls walk along the shore, their tiny talon prints blemished with the sickening sight of dark crimson oil.

When the sun set at night, the beach could be described as eerie. While we walked on the dark sand, laughing and taking photographs, a sea of red lights danced on the shoreline.  The once beautiful beaches of Perdido Pass were being closely guarded by a cavalcade of boats, working all hours of the night to place barricades and fight the largest ecological disaster of my lifetime.

The Oil Spill Disaster definitely altered our vacation. Hudson's first trip to the beach is unlike mine, or Will's, or anyone before him. Instead of spending the whole day in the sand, tucked under the shade of a striped umbrella, Hudson was only able to enjoy the beach for small increments of time, mostly in the morning when the beaches appeared fresh and clean. We were not able to hold him tightly in our arms and wade out slowly into the ocean, letting the waves lap upon his sweet, baby legs. It breaks my heart that Hudson may never know the beaches of my past.

The Gulf Coast is looking at a long fight ahead, first to stop the oil from leaking from the fractured well, and later to complete clean-up efforts that will take place long after the leak has been plugged. Let's all do our part to make conscious choices and take skillful actions in whatever ways we can to help the Gulf and save our beautiful ocean and the wildlife that live there.  Ask yourself how you might make a lifestyle decision that could help. One Love, One Ocean.

{boys of summer}

{beautiful tree, where are you from? where have you been?}

{blue skies}

{lovin' the summer sun}

{it's a beautiful day}

{I've got my toes in the water....}

{"Hi Mom!"}

{splish splash}

{natural little surfer curls}

{All you really need this time of year is a pair of shades...}

{"A walk on the beach is the perfect time to catch up on my sleep."}

{soakin' in the suds}

{"Put me back in the water!"}

{learning about the ocean}

{perfect summer day}

{sunshine & smiles}

{sweet sweet summertime}

{the tans may fade, but the memories will last forever}

{footprints in the sand}

{Hey Handsomes!}

{what a wonderful feeling}


{"This oil spill makes me angry."}

{live free}

{salty air & sun kissed hair. endless summer. love.}


Beach Week - The Cure For Everything

"The cure for everything is salt water - sweat, tears, or the sea." - Isak Dinesen

Six hours after our departure from Florence, we arrived in Orange Beach feeling quite a bit less than our best. And not for the reasons you may expect....like the possibility of a unhappy baby on a long road trip.

Will & I had agonized for days leading up to our vacation about the actual ride in the car. We found ourselves hypothesizing about how we thought Hudson might react to at least six consecutive hours in his car seat. Would their be ear-wrenching screams? Would the two of us be in tears upon arrival, as a result of the stress in the vehicle? Or could he possibly sleep the entire way? To our relief, he was a perfect little angel. He slept from Florence to Clanton, home of that infamous, giant, roadside peach, perched on the hillside between Birmingham and Montgomery, where we roused him awake so that we could carry him into the cool confines of Durbin Farms, a favorite stop for most every Alabama beach-seeker, as they have the most delicious ice cream and produce around; Think fresh watermelons, hot boiled peanuts, and the juiciest peaches this side of Georgia. It was the perfect meeting place, also. My parents pulled in just behind us, and the 5 of us settled into sturdy rocking chairs and enjoyed sweet treats and conversation about all the fun we would soon be having on the white sands of the Gulf. Our experience in the car had been fabulous, thus far. There was only one small problem. I had been feeling the beginnings of a raspy throat when we pulled out of our driveway. By the time we hit the interstate, I was having cold chills. And when we pulled up to Durbin Farms, I was fully aware that I was sick. Upon the moment that Mom laid eyes on me, she knew something was wrong. Sallow-eyed, and basically feeling sorry for myself, I all but broke down in tears as she felt my forehead and I mumbled on about 'how I finally got to have a vacation' and 'I can't believe I'm sick.' But the creamy home-made butter pecan ice cream helped to soothe my aching throat, and I told Will that I was ready to suck it up and trudge on. After all, I had always heard that salt water could cure everything.

We rolled into Orange Beach right on schedule. The ride from Clanton to the beach had been amazingly uneventful. Our little man had once again surprised us, sleeping the entire rest of the way, making us very happy. But, unfortunately, my sniffles had continued, and when we pulled into Sea & Suds to have our traditional spread of "Welcome to the Beach" Raw Oysters, I was feeling awful. I managed a smile as I laid my eyes on the beautiful ocean, and tried to muster a happy tone as I told Hudson where he was.  The oysters were fabulous, and Hudson was a smiling little bundle of love while we ate, but I really felt like I just needed to lie down. How could I be this sick on vacation!? I guess it was time to see if that old adage was true...could salt water actually be the cure for everything?

{Sea & Suds while feeling sick}

{"Boy, I'm glad to be out of that car!"}

{"Can I see a menu, please?"}

{"No oysters for me!"}

{"But I will have a french fry, please!"}

{Look who's happy to be on vacation!}

{Yummy! Now let's hit the beach!}


Beach Week - Explore. Dream. Discover.

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” - Mark Twain

Thanks to the the beautiful Gulf of Mexico, I have a wealth of happy memories that I carry with me in my mind. My memories of the beach begin with a picture of myself as a baby, sitting happily on a soft, bright towel, wearing a red and white bucket hat that shielded my head from the sun's rays. As I got a bit older, I spent my days at the beach searching for seashells with my mom, and building sand castles with my dad. As a teenager, there was nowhere better than the beach, spread out on a blanket of beach towels with my best friends, listening to a mixture of too loud cds and the roaring ocean waves as we looked for an excuse to jump in my jeep, with the rag top lowered, and ride down the busy beachfront road while our hair flew wildly in the wind.  When I met Will, we began to make our own memories of the beach, some of my favorites being sunsets and late nights spent relaxing in cozy beach chairs, with no one but each other, surrounded by nothing but bright stars, the white sand, and the beautiful blue sea.  I could not be happier that we were able to introduce Hudson to this magnificent place. A place that I hope will provide many happy memories for him throughout his life, as well.

And so with a big smile, I introduce Beach Week....my tribute to Hudson's wonderful first trip to the beach.

{"Where are we?"}

{easing his way into the sandy surroundings}

{beach baby}

{"I think I like the beach."}

{toes in the sand}

{"I don't need any stinkin' hats!"}

{first glimpse of the ocean}

{big smiles at the beach}

{testing the waters}

{"Oh NO! I don't want to get my feet wet!"}

{"Wait...this is kind of fun!"}

{"Yes, yes. I like the feeling of the tide on my toes!"}

{"Wheee!" Can we stay for awhile?"}


A Father's Love

Hudson and I are truly fortunate that we have such a wonderful man in our life. My husband Will amazes me each and every day. To have spent six years knowing and loving Will before he was a father was incredible, but it was only the beginning, because from the glorious moment I found out that Hudson was on his way, I discovered a new kind of love...a magical love that was even deeper than I ever could have imagined. Love that seeped out from his every pore as I looked at him in the ultrasound room through happy tear-filled eyes as the nurse told us our baby was a healthy boy and he smiled the proudest smile that only a father could muster. Love that I could feel in the depth of my bones as he gripped my shoulder tightly as the doctor told us the night before we were scheduled to welcome our baby boy, that there may be a few complications and the birth might not go exactly the way that I had planned. Love that I could almost taste when I saw his face shine with happiness as he laid his eyes on his son for the very first time. Love that tells me each moment of every day that his heart is with me and Hudson for the long run. Love that I know will only continue to grow stronger and stronger.

Happy First Father's Day, Will. Thank you for giving me the most beautiful blessing on this earth, our amazing little Hudson. Thank you for giving me the life that I have always dreamed of- this magnificent life spent every day taking care of you, our baby, and our home.  Because of you my life is perfect in so many ways. I love you more than words can say and I am proud of you. Hudson is fortunate to have you as a father.

{1st Day as a Father - 8/12/09}

{1st Father's Day - 6/20/10}

{....and Daddy's 1st Father's Day Gift from Hudson:  A cozy little bird house for a lucky little birdy family. It's special because Daddy doesn't just love Mommy & Hudson....he loves all the  creatures that live in our yard, too!}


A Happy Poem I Like....

Having a Coke with You

is even more fun than going to San Sebastian, IrĂșn, Hendaye, Biarritz, Bayonne
or being sick to my stomach on the Travesera de Gracia in Barcelona
partly because in your orange shirt you look like a better happier St. Sebastian
partly because of my love for you, partly because of your love for yoghurt
partly because of the fluorescent orange tulips around the birches
partly because of the secrecy our smiles take on before people and statuary
it is hard to believe when I’m with you that there can be anything as still
as solemn as unpleasantly definitive as statuary when right in front of it
in the warm New York 4 o’clock light we are drifting back and forth
between each other like a tree breathing through its spectacles

and the portrait show seems to have no faces in it at all, just paint
you suddenly wonder why in the world anyone ever did them
I look
at you and I would rather look at you than all the portraits in the world
except possibly for the Polish Rider occasionally and anyway it’s in the Frick
which thank heavens you haven’t gone to yet so we can go together the first time
and the fact that you move so beautifully more or less takes care of Futurism
just as at home I never think of the Nude Descending a Staircase or
at a rehearsal a single drawing of Leonardo or Michelangelo that used to wow me
and what good does all the research of the Impressionists do them
when they never got the right person to stand near the tree when the sun sank
or for that matter Marino Marini when he didn’t pick the rider as carefully
as the horse
it seems they were all cheated of some marvellous experience
which is not going to go wasted on me which is why I’m telling you about it

Frank O'Hara