Sun, Rain and the Stormy Gulf

I write this from a beautiful place.  A place known for sugar white beaches, sun,  and sea turtles lumbering around burying their eggs.  I write this from the crow’s nest of the place I am staying, digs generously offered by friends who are down here, too, and find themselves with too much room. 

I write this dry, though a driving rain beats just outside the windows. 

It is early morning, even though I was up at midnight on the covered porch as lightening blazed and thunder rumbled, sometimes in the distance, sometimes clapping overhead.  It is a big rain.  A long rain with no signs of easing up today or tomorrow. 

A biblical rain. 

And I like it. 

But one of the reasons I am high up in the house is this.  One of my hosts is here for the golf, and just yesterday, also a day of rain, was to be his first day on the links.   Or should I say link, since he got in only one hole before the skies opened up.  He’s a bit cranky and working through it. 

I feel bad for him.  

Golf, requiring finesse as it does, has never been my sport.  I’m of an age now where I no longer plan a beach vacation around the hours and intensity of the sun, cabbaging onto a lounge chair at nine in the morning so I can have it still at high noon, the best and most efficient hour to toast oneself a gorgeous brown, the same activity that will land one in a dermatologist’s office forty years hence. 

My travel prep last week included coffee time with friends, laundry, procuring a house sitter and a plant waterer, and the purchases of high tech beach towels and a crushable sun hat.  Cheap t-shirts.  Sunscreen. 

In all my preparations I failed to watch the weather.  Didn’t notice the tropical depression working so hard out there in the Gulf to get a name.  So, it was a surprise when Claudette greeted me early Saturday morning as I drove with thousands of others heading south.  

A little past Montgomery I had just about had it and I tried to ditch her, or at least minimize her particular way of annoying me.  I left the bumper to bumper traffic and low visibility of I-65 for an Alabama backroad, I don’t know which one.  But I figured, as long as I keep heading south, the ocean will eventually break my fall and from there I just have to turn left or right.

Which is what I did. 

Instead of packing golf clubs, I pack knitting needles.  Binoculars.  Books.  Notebooks to fill with inspired and inspiring thoughts.  I save so much money because I bring them home empty and just toss them in my pack for the next time.  I pretend I actually live here, in this beautiful place with the manicured lawns and wild weather.  

I see myself pensive and tragic.

I see myself famous and jaded and hiding away from the world. 

I see myself in a muumuu.

But this is just me. It is early in the week and it is apt to rain every day.  I don’t know what my golfer pal will do.  His wife and I have other friends down here with us, and they are fun and busy, working jigsaws, getting mani-pedis when they can’t hang by the pool.  I, myself, could go for a spa day, if I wasn’t too lazy to make a call.  

So, I sit in the crow’s nest, giving my hosts some space to sort out their week in a way that won’t be too distressful.  There is good shopping, a movie theatre open, but still, I’m not on that committee and they will have to work it out for themselves.

Or maybe the gods will smile on us, and in particular Burnt Pine.  The course will dry out and the sun will shine on the greens.  I can loll by the pool or on the beach and try out that sand-proof towel.  Wear my new hat.  I hope so.  My friend  needs to golf and truly I have a head for hats. 

Babies, Blankies and Great-Aunties

I spent Sunday afternoon with my knits and purls and wooden needles softly shuffling against each other as I worked on a baby blanket.  Being in the midst of a summer cold, the cruelest of maladies, I was content to sit and sip tea and think about this baby for whom the blanket is intended. 

He is already here, Master Arthur Henry, and I only just met him a couple of weeks ago, this happy little fellow who smiles and gurgles and rolls over like a champ. 

He rolls with such gusto he often ends up under things, like my rocker, and he can’t get out, and I swear, I think for him that is half the fun.

He doesn’t live all that far away, but as for so many of us, visits with new babies have been a different kind of thing. His mother and grandmother are good about posting pictures, so it seems like I almost know him.  But really, those expressions caught in mid-air, the flatness of a photo, are inadequate substitutes for real-time giggles and smiles and drool. 

He is easy to hold and likes it, nestling in and burrowing his head just under my chin, only to pop it up a short second later.  He’s a good sleeper, I hear, once he gets there, but he fights it, afraid he might miss something. 

His mother and I had conversations about yarn color for the blanket.  She and her husband like a cool and muted palette, and I think maybe “oatmeal” was mentioned as fitting into the nursery scheme. 

I aim to please, and had gathered up a very soft, very bland wad of ecru yarn, had almost paid for it, when I just had to go back for one more look.  I couldn’t imagine spending hours working with it, it was that boring, and I think a blue-eyed, ginger-headed baby needs something as bright as he is to wallow around and wrap up in. 

I found a nice blue, not garish or cliché, and muted enough to work in the nursery, warm enough to be inviting.  

So, on Sunday, unwell and feeling sorry for myself, I spend a couple of quiet hours knitting and listening to the afternoon rise and fall just beyond my windows.  I’m glad I have met Arthur now, as I finish his blanket. When I knit something for loved ones, I like thinking about them as I work.  Not exactly as one might while knitting a prayer shawl, but kind of.  

If I am working on something for a baby or a child, I don’t watch Netflix or listen to podcasts, at least not my usual fare.  I might watch a cozy British mystery, but never anything gruesome or troubling, or laden with language.  It is as if the recipient of the blanket is in the room with me, and I have to monitor my surroundings. 

This isn’t even conscious, and I only realized it while working on Arthur’s blanket. I just couldn’t find something to watch that seemed in keeping with knitting for a baby on a Sunday afternoon. 

So, I sat in the quiet and knitted and purled, counted rows. I thought about him as I worked, but nothing so specific as hopes and dreams and speculations for his future. Of course I want him to be well-loved and happy, kindly treated and nurtured in every way. But those big, specific things, those are the wishes for parents, for their quiet moments of dreaming, 

I have a different job. 

I am the auntie, the great-auntie, as it happens.  My job is easy.  I just have to be here.  Sitting with a half-finished blanket in my lap, the stand-in for the little person who will fill my lap the next time he visits.  Waiting to get to know him better, what juice boxes to have on hand, what cookies we won’t tell his mother about. Discussing what is on his mind, his worries and his favorite jokes, or discussing any old thing at all. 

All on earth I have to do is love this child.  And to love his new cousins coming along in quick succession.  Knit them blankets.  Make sure they know where I am, any time, day or night, anywhere in the world.