Words from the road
By Ken DeLaat
There is nothing quite like a road trip to clear one’s head- particularly if it involves traveling in a southerly direction during this time of year.
The past few years have seen a couple of car cruises toward the Carolinas , a short sortee to Savannah and some major meandering through Mississippi so the non-Florida series continued this year in the direction of Alabama.
Nothing against the Sunshine State. After all it is indeed a peninsula and we are (bi) peninsular people and all but recalling a trip through coastal Alabama a few decades back the area seemed to be calling us back in that direction.
Funny how as one ages there seems to be a bit of a pull toward past events and travels that spark forgotten memories.
Speaking just for myself, of course, since my Lifetime Spousal Companion Lil seems to be ageless, a fact pointed out every time I’m asked who my much younger companion might be. A more sensitive guy might take offense at such comments but like I said that would be a more sensitive type and being fairly impervious to assessments of my character, appearance, personality and so forth by others these situations produce nary a ripple.
But I digress.
Needless to say there have been changes in the 30+years since our last visit. Beach houses and smallish hotels have been replaced by massive condos and resorts stretching as far and high as the eye can see. It seems if there is a spot on water it is engulfed by humanity and this area is certainly no exception.
This reality of our times aside, the area retains a beauty that extends beyond the marvelous seashore.
Discovery of one of those outrageously wonderful used book stores that dot the land. We tend to not bring books along instead make finding reading material along the way a bit of a quest. This allows for seeking out content to fit the mood of the moment and my mood was mysteries. Southern flavored mysteries at that.
I chose a Grisham selection (The Rogue Lawyer a multi section meandering story that offers a rather dim view of the entire justice system) then asked for a few recommendations from the quite knowledgeable and helpful book folks and discovered the wonderful weaving of words produced by James Lee Burke. A previously unread author who produces small Chandleresque gems like ‘I felt like I was snipping fingernails in a season of plague.’, Burke makes use of the southern dialect peculiar to Louisiana in a way that had me seeking out the inclinations of his well crafted lines via the magic of the internet.
The town of Fairhope, a tree laden southern marvel with intriguing people and shops and a bookstore where an Advice booth was set up like the familiar Peanuts psychiatry booth where Lucy held court. The same price (5 cents) and while the dispenser of said advice bore little similarity to the young Ms. Van Pelt, her booth was never empty and my notion to give it a try was stymied by a fruitless search for a subject matter and the continual line of folks who took advantage of her offerings.
Duck’s Diner was recommended as a breakfast spot and turned out to be a regular morning destination. It was the kind of place where Banana French Toast, shrimp laden grits and the most mouth watering biscuits imaginable stoked a menu filled with the usual offerings and buck-fifty Bloody Marys.
Locals dominated the scene along with a few of us folks who had accents and the serving staff were among the most accommodating peeps ever encountered.
The beach, of course. Surfers dotted the gulf waters, small kids built sand castles, paddleball, frisbees and a game involving a small trampoline type thing and a small ball along with the occasional volleyball contest all had their place and walking along the shore became a ritual that never grew tiresome.
Best of all? Time. Time to do whatever was desired or in many cases to do just nothing at all.
“What are your plans for today,” LSC Lil asked just a short time ago.
Nothing. I was kind of hoping to do nothing today.
“You did that yesterday.”
“And the day before.”
Um, yeah I believe you’re right.
“So why again today?”
Well I’m not entirely sure I got it right so I thought of maybe giving it another go. They say repetition is often the key to success.
“I’m not sure being good at doing nothing could be called success.”
Probably not but I would hate to abandon the effort at this point.
“I am so busy doing nothing... that the idea of doing anything - which as you know, always leads to something - cuts into the nothing and then forces me to have to drop everything.”-Jerry Seinfeld
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