Publisher’s Corner: Family Stories Of The Sea

To celebrate my grandson’s first birthday this summer, we decided to treat him to his first trip to the ocean. Great Grandma (GG) lives in Florida on the Atlantic coast just south of the Kennedy Space Center. They call it the Space Coast and we were excited to get Jackson’s feet in the sand for the first time. We loaded up our rental van from Budget (didn’t want to put the miles and wear and tear on our old van). And with me, my wife Niki, my daughters Natalie and Stephanie and grandson Jackson, were off to return to the sea. For a dozen years we took our family to the beach when the kids were little. There is something so wonderful about a family trip to the beach. Spending quality time in the van driving long distance, playing games and the kids watching videos or reading books. It came with it’s challenges of course, stuck in a vehicle for hours and hours and hours. We did break up our stay with a night in Chattanooga at the Country Inns and Suites (one of our favorite spots). On this trip, 1-year-old Jackson was about as good as any kid can be strapped down in a car seat for hours on end. When we were kids, there were no car seats. Matter of fact, when we were really little, there were no seat belts. We roamed around the back seat and we played the cow game as the landscape whizzed by outside. Count the cows on your side of the car. Each cow is worth one point. Horses are worth 5 points each. And cemeteries wipe out your points. We would play this for hours and hours with of course some sort of dispute along the way. “Hey, that wasn’t a horse, it was a donkey!” “No it wasn’t I get 5 more points.” “Saw a cow over there by that old truck.” “That was a dog.” “No it wasn’t… mom, Billy is cheating.” Jackson was too young to play the Cow Game, but he wasn’t too young to let us know when it was time to stretch at a rest stop. It’s a good thing he is great eater. Man can that boy put away the puffs. Luckily we made it to GG’s house just in time for dinner. Jackson’s first time digging his toes in the sand went well with a few looks of pleasure and wondering what it was between his toes. The pounding surf was another experience. The water was fine, but the sound of the surf freaked him out a bit. A calmer ocean on a different day would have been much better. But he liked looking at the sea gulls and tiny water birds as they scampered up and down the shore as the foam came in and out. My daughter Stephanie spent much of her time during the week in the ocean playing in the waves. She said it is so calming and therapeutic. Wave after wave, soothing and calm at times and then a breaker takes you down if you are not looking. So much like life. I got one of those straps that holds your glasses on your head so you don’t lose them in the waves. Decided to wear them all the time now. No lost glasses. Jackson began to walk more on the trip. So much energy getting released. His mother Natalie is so keen to his every need. She is such a great mom. I am so proud of her. GG reads to Jackson as the sun sets over the lagoon pond behind her condo. NiNi (my wife Grandma Niki) took Jackson out earlier to feed the family of turtles who live in the pond. The ducks came over for a snack too, but the big turtle snapped at their webbed feet and scared them away. The manatees lumber along in the canal nearby amid the moored boats. Many of the gentle giants bearing the scars from encounters with propellers. Known also as “Sea Cows” the sea creatures seem so happy to just float along, slowly submerging for a moment and then rising again for a breath of air. The ocean, the beach, the salt air, the family time all make for experiences we will never forget. We are hoping to start Jackson on this tradition we found so wonderful for so many years with our children — times that will never be forgotten and often remembered in stories handed down from generation to generation. Stories of the sea.
Ahoy Jackson, J.B. Lester; Publisher