The Bay

So right now I’m feeling all kinds of guilty that I’m choosing to sit down and journal while there is soooooooo much to be done around the house. But the reality is that if I don’t take these moments right now to reflect and record today’s special moment, I’ll want to draw on this special memory in years to come, but my mind will fail me. I wish I had the type of memory that remembered all things- big and small. But oftentimes even the big things don’t have much stickiness in my memory. I’m not sure what that’s all about….so I journal and blog to try to hold onto the memories.

This afternoon we met up with our friends at “The Bay”. It’s a very, very special place. The  calm, waveless water by Long Beach/Seal Beach, right near Naples. A gorgeous place. A calm place. A place of many, many fun times for Jacob and Natalie. It is here that we meet our beloved homeschool friends from our Adventure Club. During the summer the families meet at the bay every week. Today was going to be a hot day, so several of us agreed that in the afternoon, once our homeschool academics had been completed, we would meet at the bay. Let me tell you…..that time and place with those ladies and their children is beyond delightful!

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Oftentimes the older boys of the group like to swim across the bay, from 57th St. to Naples. Today I joined them. Whoa! That was quite a swim!!! Swimming in the sea is no joke….with the current….the saltiness of the water….the choppiness of the water’s top due to the wind. But I did it! I swam from the beach all the way across to where you see those clumps of palm trees, across the bay.

(Photo Credit: Greta Eskridge)

thebayThe joy for me though was sharing that swim with the 4 boys and one girl who also made it across. Noah, James, William, Jacob and Emmerly had set out……while I sat on the beach deliberating whether I felt up for the challenge today. I had watched the boys go across in the past and had always quietly wished that I’d muster up the courage to try the swim. Today I hemmed and hawed quietly in my mind. My girlfriends were here on the beach- I would thoroughly enjoy getting to spend time chatting with them. Oh but the thrill of that exercise and the fun of getting to see if I could meet the challenge of swimming across were calling out to me today. And my sweet friend Greta said “you should do it. Go for it!” Sometimes that extra encouragement is what I need. So off I went. I swam and swam and swam. At one point a sail boat came through the channel- but cleared past me, no worries. It’s quite a different experience than lap swimming at the local pool! Man there’s no ‘taking breaks’ hanging on the sidewall or standing up. My breaks were sometimes swimming on my back.

When the kids noticed I too was coming, they shouted “try to catch up with us!” Ha! Yeah right. They were quite a bit ahead of me. I eventually caught up with them at the dock. They have a routing of tying up their surfboard and the boogie boards. 3 of them had rode in on those, paddling with their arms across the bay. 2 of the others had swam across just like me. I was SO impressed with those who swam. It is indeed quite a feat to swim across like that with nothing to hang onto for a break.

But then the hilarity began! They just pulled themselves out of the water onto the surfboard and up onto the dock. For the life of me I couldn’t do it. The surfboard had no wax on it and was suuuuuuuper slippery. If I had any luck getting my knees up on the surfboard, then I had to contend with the fact that in the process the surfboard had moved up in a rather vertical position up agains the side of the dock, with the way I had shimmied up onto the board and distributed my weight. I tried and tried again. No luck. All the while I kept trying, the boys were climbing up on the dock, up and over a railing and then jumping back into the bay from a high wall. They were having a blast! Emmerly in the meantime was collecting crabs along the dock. She has an incredible knack for catching animals! Her reflexes are sooooooo lightning fast! As the boys were jumping and she was catching crabs, I kept trying to get myself out of the water and up onto that dock. But with no ladder, mussels and algae agains the dock pilings to contend with and not enough upper body strength to hoist myself up, I had one failed attempt after another.

It was so sweet having the boys try to break down the “how to use the surfboard to get up out of the water onto the dock” procedure. They were doing it in slow-motion, explaining each step of the way, where I should place each hand and foot….and then they’d jump up onto the dock easy-peasy! Jacob then stayed with me trying to encourage me and help me figure out ways to stabilize the super slick-slippery surfboard that kept moving vertically away from me. When I thought about it later, it dawned on me that it was probably really significant and helpful to him to watch Mama totally, utterly fail at something. He doesn’t get the benefit of watching me do things I can’t do. And yet today he witnessed that. Mamas cannot do everything. He was so sweet keeping me company and trying to help. At one point though he said “C’mon JUST get up!!” He could feel my own angst of having tried what felt like a bzillion times. Seriously I think I tried for at least 15 minutes…..perhaps even 20 minutes. It felt like forever. At one point I thought to myself “you better reserve energy for the swim all the way back across the bay. you’re wasting a lot of energy treading water, trying to kick yourself up onto this surfboard and hoisting yourself up out of the water.”

But, finally! Finally. Finally. I made it up onto the dock. Hip hip hooray!!!!! What relief. 🙂

And then I climbed over the railing….walked over to the wall….and got myself ready for the jump back into the bay. Sweet Emmerly was going to make that first jump along with me. She had never jumped off before. This was a first for her and I at the same time. As we clung to the railing and I saw some trepidation in her eyes, with her inching closer to me…..I began to think “we just need to do this…..okay let’s count to 3 and do it”


And we jumped. Emmerly and I. What a sweet moment. And there were jubilant smiles on the boys’ faces.

Shortly after we made the swim back across the bay. Emmerly brought back with her a small bucket with the crabs she had collected from alongside the dock. Jacob and her shared the long surfboard…..trying to paddle with their hands all the while trying not to knock over the bucket of crabs.

The crabs made it to shore on the ride across the bay! We all made it back. A bit tired from that hard workout- but indeed feeling like a million dollars for having met the challenge!

(Photo Credit: Greta Eskridge)


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