Hatteras memories as they flash through my mind

Waking up to the ancient sound of the ocean, pulls me from bed early in the morning, draws me to the covered deck outside our bedroom, sitting on the porch swing breathing deeply of the soft, full air.  The ocean’s ceaseless rhythm existed before Adam, before the sun, moon and stars.

Sid coming to get me, to tell me to come downstairs to breakfast.  “You’re dragging me from my happy place,” I tell him.  “Your happy place follows me,” he says.  Wise man, though a little arrogant.

Bright sun, Sid catching the waves to body surf, Sidney and Lincoln trying to copy their Daddy.  Rachel running in and out of the water and then chasing a bird that humors her by running around in circles instead of flying away.  “Look Mama, the birds are dancing to the music,” she says.  The ocean is the only music there is.  Prairie laughing and crying a little at the same time, excitement mixed with healthy fear and awe.

Snorkeling in the Pamlico Sound.  the water so gentle and tame that even Prairie can walk out in it without holding my hand.  Sidney catches a crab and Sid captures a jellyfish.  Prairie and I sit on the shore in the shallowest water, collecting broken sea shells.  It is difficult to find a perfect, unbroken shell.  Funny how we seek after the beautiful and perfect, the unbroken, but how we all, everyone of us, live broken, imperfect lives.  The broken shells still have lovely patterns and colors and I can almost glimpse the perfect whole they used to be.  Soon Lincoln joined us.  “Oh look at this one Mama.  Isn’t it beautiful?  And this one, see the pretty stripes?  Ooooh, this one has green on it Mama.  And this one is a nice gray, don’t you like this one Mama?”

Quiet afternoons with the sound of the ocean always in the background, napping on the bed, the boys downstairs watching That Darn Cat.  Lincoln, especially, laughing hysterically.

Night time walks on the beach with flashlights searching for crabs.  Prairie and Rachel’s squeals, everyone talking and yelling at the same time as each person spots a crab and chases it.  “I see one, I see one!  Crab! Crab!  There he goes!  Here’s a big one!  I’m going to try to catch him.  Oh! It’s a baby crab.”

Kite flying while I sit on the porch partly reading and partley watching.  Seeing Sid suddenly running and diving into the water, he pulls Sidney out —riptide.  Fifteen minutes later, Sid runs into the water again, grabbing Rachel by the ankle.  She comes up chewing on sea shells — riptide.  Thankful Sid was watching and the kids now have a healthy fear of the ocean.

Prairie singing “Amazing Grace,” many of her words unintelligible because she doesn’t know the EXACT words, though she has the tune down pat.  But her word substitutions sung quite clearly and decisively  “A-maz-ing APPLE, uuhhhhhhh sweeeeeep the CHEESEBURGER-GER.”

Sid teaching the kids to play BlackJack.  Sidney, Lincoln and Rachel taking turns saying “hit me.”

Another evening walk, enjoying the stars and moon and the constant wind on our faces.  Lincoln running, running, running far ahead, then turning around and racing back, so much pent up energy.  He never stopped running.  Sid swinging the children up into the air as they each squeal “my turn, my turn” and giving the children piggyback rides.  Me pretending to be a mama crab and chasing Rachel down to “pinch” her as she squeals and begs for more.  Lincoln daring me to catch him.  He moves too fast and I don’t catch him unless I trick him.

Watching a local video about the Graveyard of the Atlantic, history of shipwrecks, German U-boats and war on the North Carolina coast.  Sidney shaking his head and saying ” War just doesn’t make sense.”

Sidney and Lincoln’s bedtime conversation, only partially overheard because Sid and I are laughing too hard, though trying to be quiet —

Lincoln –“There are a lot of people in this world that I see that I don’t like . . . . . . . . and most of them that I don’t like are smelly . . . . . . .Did you know that I can smell when I read?”

Minutes later, hearing Prairie through our bedroom wall singing at the top of her lungs, while Rachel sleeps soundly in the bed right next to her.  I look at Sid and feel so content and blessed and happy.

Sid, holding Prairie on his arm, trying to steal a quiet moment and a quick kiss from me while the three oldest and loudest kids are downstairs.  Prairie, quite serious, laying her little hand on my shoulder and crowding her head against her daddy’s head as she presses her lips to my cheek.  Sid and I getting tickled and Prairie unsure about what we are laughing at, but joining in our laughter a second later because she just wants to belong, to be a part of the happiness.

Rachel getting a hole in one at mini-golf “high five mama”

Ferry ride to Ocracoke, unsettling movement under our feet, breezes on our faces, jellyfish in the blue-green water.  Driving off the ferry and traveling 13 miles with nothing but dunes and the ocean and the sound in sight.

Last night.  One more nighttime walk on the beach.  Flashlights finding crabs, Prairie jumping up and down, flapping her arms at every “baby crab” she sees.  Sid wrapping his arms around me and kissing my ear.  My oldest son saying, “Do ya’ll really need to do that here instead of at the house?”

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