The warm waters of the Atlantic are a revelation to this native daughter of California. No wet suit is required on the coast of South Carolina to enjoy a good long swim, riding or dodging the waves that come often and with determination. There are under currents, however, that can pull you out to sea, about which I was warned by a red flag, so I stayed close to shore. Nevertheless I was delighted with the temperature and the liveliness of this water. Never do I linger, when I do manage to get in at all, in the chilly waters of the Pacific. The Pacific Coast is gorgeous to look at and provides an excellent home with plenty of feed for many amazing sea mammals, but I am not one of them.
I began my stay in Myrtle Beach by camping for two nights at the Myrtle Beach State Park. This is a beautiful, densely wooded park right on the coast; both forest and beach are right there at your disposal. Here I was able to watch the solar eclipse, with the proper glasses, thanks to the Forest Ranger. Since South Carolina was within the path of totality I thought it would get dark in Myrtle Beach, but Myrtle Beach was just outside of that path and so did not become really dark. Nevertheless we were able to see the eclipse despite intermittent cloud cover. Now I understand why people make the effort to get well within the path of totality.
I spent the early mornings walking on the beach, watching the sun rise
and looking to see if any sea turtles were hatching and making their way to the sea. Volunteer naturalists somehow find sea turtle nests in other more populated areas of Myrtle Beach, dig them up, and bring them here where there are fewer people.
They mark them, put up a temporary fence and cover them with a plastic net that is meant to prevent raccoons and foxes from digging them up. When the turtle eggs are expected to hatch, the volunteers come at 6:00 am every day to make sure the baby turtles make it out to sea. Even sand castles can be a dangerous obstacle; the longer the babies are on the beach, the greater the risk of death by land predators. I didn’t get to see any hatchlings, but I did meet a couple of nice volunteers.
Myrtle Beach is a popular tourist destination not only because of the beach but also for its golf, the Waccamaw River with its riparian wildlife, and, perhaps most significantly, its entertainment venues and shows. The Calvin Gilmore Theater, Broadway at the Beach, and the Alabama Theater are just a few of the auditoriums that have long standing shows that are well attended, such as The Carolina Opry. I didn’t take in any of these attractions; instead I enjoyed the comfort and convenience of my own two bedroom apartment
for four nights, cooking delicious meals, watching a bit of news on the 4′ flat-screen television and taking walks to the grocery store and beach.
My friend Mary from Orange County gifted me with this Time-Share stay, for which I am very grateful. It was a nice respite from camping on the ground at the State Park.
From what I see on the news and on Facebook, there is a lot of anger and agitation on both sides of the political spectrum, especially on the far ends of that spectrum. I see the polarization growing wider and wider, within the nation and even within my own family. Again I am reminded of St. Francis (with whom I began this journey, if you will recall, at the home of my good friends, the Gulartes) whose famous prayer never fails to bring peace to any contentious situation. It truly is a solution to any and all disputes, when sincerely and humbly said. What better tack can I take than to seek to understand where the “others” are coming from, rather than wish, or demand, that they understand my thinking.
We all have the same basic needs for security, love, liberty and belonging. We all want to provide for ourselves and our families and to have at least enough. As populations increase and resources dwindle, there are bound to be tensions, unless my priority is to live in harmony and in peace. Can I be tolerant, kind and loving toward my neighbors no matter what their political stance, their religion or their race? Can I live and let live? Or must I force others to adopt my beliefs, to stay away, or to disappear? Can I expect others to be satisfied with a meager standard of living in the least desirable place while I have only the best? What kind of attitude and actions towards others on my part will contribute to the true well being of myself, my family and my society?
I left Myrtle Beach on Sunday, by bus. As I stepped aboard the coach I was greeted by a delightful, shining and smiling face. The mature woman was much like a child who is both afraid and eager to make a new friend, all at the same time. I met her unspoken invitation with a polite request to sit next to her, which she readily granted. We spent the next hour telling all about ourselves to one another. I’ve heard it said that telling all to a stranger is a sign of codependency, or immaturity. But we didn’t feel that way. We enjoyed the opportunity to connect quickly and intimately with no strings attached. That she happens to be black made the experience that much richer for me. I saw just how similar we are in our basic needs and desires.
I am now in Apex, North Carolina, at the home of a childhood friend. It’s so good to have old friends. They know us better and have a deeper understanding of what makes us tick than those we have known for a shorter time. I’m very grateful to have maintained some of my oldest friends.
More about Diane and her beautiful area in my next post. May God bless you and keep you until then.