It is a scene worthy of the great Impressionist masters. Two little girls walking along a sunny pier with their Grandpa. They alternate between skipping merrily ahead, or stopping to examine the latest in seagull graffiti. One little head bobs over the railing of the pier, while the top of the other is barely visible. Beyond them the ocean stretches for incomprehensible miles to the distant horizon. Here and there a boat skims along the surface in the distance, moving cargo to a remote port or stopping to let down lines and sinkers. A cool breeze wafts lazily over the beach where Mommy and Daddy rest, chatting with Grandpa's wife. They've only been married for a few years, but she fits comfortably within the family's dynamic, and conversation comes easily.
Mommy tries to capture the idyllic scene with her digitally enhanced zoom, but they're just too far away. Ah, well. The memory will linger.
Santa Barbara is a home away from home for the Woodys. Poppa is the primary draw, but we'd come here with or without such an excuse. Mrs. Woody lived here for a few brief years before striking out on her own, and the place holds a special appeal. We both love all things nautical, and the theme permeates our home decor. The sky is nearly always fresh and clear - certainly far more so than it is in Los Angeles or Orange County. Even when it's gray and foggy it's a retreat that we crave. If it weren't for the long drive home we'd probably just melt in place and stay for as long as we could get away with. As it is, the visits are all too brief, and before we know it it's time to hop in the car and turn southeast.
While we're at the beach, however, no one rushes through the routine. The pier walk is Poppa's special time with his granddaughters. He loves them dearly, and they love him, too. He loves to direct their attention to various wonders: egrets wading in a nearby marsh; a large pile of driftwood that Mrs. Woody remarks is just begging for someone to set ablaze, A&M bonfire-style. The driftwood yields two Woodyette-sized walking sticks that they can keep for a memento of the day. They probably won't last beyond the coming winter, but they'll serve well to the inevitable end. Jelly also grabs a few more treasured rocks from the beach. Her "collection" is burgeoning (I know not where to keep them!), but they fascinate her and she'll continue to collect for the foreseeable future. Doodle just loves the walk. Poppa fascinates her, and her spongelike mind absorbs nearly everything he points out to her.
For the Mom and Dad this is also therapeutic. The salt air combined with the peaceful beach and beautiful vista invigorate us when nothing else can. We don't need to be running in the sand; we just like the view. As with good art the picture draws us in and makes us a part of it. It may be that it appeals to our inner romantics. Or, it may just be that we've both had a lifelong fascination with the sea and it's many wonders. We see the hand of the great Master Painter himself in every breaking wave, and in every grain of sand. We feel at home here.
As brief as are the visits, the benefits are (fortunately) longer lasting. We found another idea for decorating our yard that will be in keeping with our nautical theme, and we can't wait to get our hands on it. A lighthouse for our front planter is just the ticket, and Mrs. Woody is already thinking about finding other sea-related goodies to go with it. Perhaps the Woodyettes will be interested in doing a little scavenging with Mom and Dad over the next few weeks.
With a few more strokes of the brush, the scene is committed to canvas. Our minds will be able to recall this scene over and over for the next several weeks until we once again make the trek north and west. Poppa will once again play tour guide to his knowledge-thirsting granddaughters, and Mrs. Woody and I will once again soak up sun and memories.
It's a heady mixture.