If you follow the trees from the left to the right… you can see a break in the pines and spruce. Sort of a flat spot.
That’s the bridge to the island.
A swing bridge.
Instead of rising up, like a drawbridge, the main span – all 187 feet of it – swings open, allowing boats to glide toward and away from the nearby harbor.
For me, in summer, passing over the bridge means leaving the atmosphere of the island, and landing in a world filled with summer’s hustle and bustle… well, as hustle-y and bustle-y as this area gets I suppose.
Maybe a bit more than the quiet of our cow-infused hometown, Dunstable, Massachusetts.
And I think…
A little less than Manhattan.
Shops and streets and parks and restaurants and beaches welcome folks who have flown and driven and rowed and sailed and motored to this beautiful part of our big blue marble.
To me, and to many others, part of the magic is that I can still find a quiet place to sit and be, even as the human population triples, and more, each summer.
But sometimes heading out and becoming ‘anonymous in a crowd’ is as wonderful a place to be, and think, as a quiet spot on a rocky shore. Totally different, but just as inspiring.
Because people watching.
Case in point.
A few years ago, I found myself downtown, walking behind a gaggle of bejeweled and bedazzled humans engaged in a dissonant conversational dance. Gems of amplified chitchat would float above, hanging in the air until my following ears could reach them.
“I wanna see a seal. That’s what I came fo-ah.”
“Robbie, we have tuh find a place we-ah you can buy some Sperrys. I can’t buh-LEEVE you fuh-gut them!”
And then, my fave, shared with JoHn immediately upon my return home:
“Ya, it’s nice an’ all. But it’s ceh-tainly nawt the Vin-yid.”
I still wonder sometimes if the woman who wanted to see a seal actually went anywhere that seals tend to hang out, or if she left disappointed that she didn’t run into one standing in line to buy that guy’s Sperrys.
I’m sure, for some folks, overhearing the running commentary of their lives and their views of this place and its people would have corkscrewed disbelief and resentment into the depths of their brains. But I smiled the entire time I walked behind that group. Almost followed them down a side street I wasn’t planning to head down, just to continue to fill my memory coffers with their gabfest.
It was like giving into a craving for dialogue-ical junk food that I didn’t even know I had.
And when I was done, I just dabbed my chin and realized I felt no guilt whatsoever. It was deliciously entertaining, and absolutely fodder for future mulling and pondering.
Hours later, I was again downtown… this time with JoHn and the kids.
I’d loved the empty-caloried conversation I’d heard at lunchtime.
Now it was just after dinner, and I’d passed on dessert.
But I got it anyway.
One of the best desserts I’ve ever encountered.
We’d just stepped outside, and the light was beautiful, the sun sinking behind the pines and into the sea far away.
That’s when I saw it.
At first glance, a family on the second floor balcony of a seaside motel.
The door to their room was open, and from the way they were dressed, it seemed they had just arrived… a mom, a dad, and three small children.
Wonder had hijacked their faces, and they were all abuzz, speaking in a language I could not immediately identify… eastern european something.
The father had a small camera, and he was moving it all around, clearly trying to capture something in the distance… but no.
It wasn’t in the distance.
It was right in front of him… of them. And it was so common it didn’t even register that it might be the object of their delight.
A simple, ordinary, everyday, so inescapable that there are signs begging tourists to please not feed them because they are so ubiquitous and pesty… seagull.
The family was so excited! Smiling, pointing, laughing as the gull attempted to land on the railing nearby, a bit uncertain if it should with all this commotion going on. My guess was that there was a portion of something, maybe a potato chip or a twizzler or food-impersonating lint over there. Only a seagull or a labrador retriever would go after it with such gusto, sacrificing all personal safety for the cause.
The family was going nowhere until they got their photo, and until they filled their own memory coffers with this experience.
The beginning of their vacation magical.
This place had delivered.
With something they would see everyday, many times a day, for as long as they stayed.
Their marvel-ment of this silly bird, brought me to a place of joy, followed so quickly by gratitude that if they were cars there would have surely been a collision.
And it. Was. Awesome.
My ordinary was their extraordinary.
My ordinary was extraordinary.
Those reminders, the ones that knock me back and nearly off my feet, are priceless gifts.
We are, so many of us and in so many ways, so fortunate.
To remember that our ordinaries might be another soul’s extraordinaries is, I believe, one of the keys to joy, to happiness, to contentment… to so much of what we are seeking in this life.
It’s a pretty cool piece of knowledge, a psychic charm to keep in our back pockets… to acknowledge, take out, and behold every so often.
And way, way, way better than a new pair Sperrys.
Thanks for readin’.
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