The End of September

Last week was busy, busy, busy. The semester barrels onward. Book circle meetings, committee work, research, faculty meetings. Class prep. Quizzes to grade. Midterms to write. And last week was the first week of a memoir writing class I’m teaching for OLLI (Osher Lifelong Learning Institute). That class. Let me tell you. I absolutely adore it. The writers are amazing, their work is amazing, the material we get to discuss is amazing. And we eat cookies.

By the end of last week, though, I was beat. Friday was the last official day of summer. We decided to celebrate fall’s arrival on Saturday by going to the beach. We got up and cleaned the house and then drove down to Oak Island. But first, food. We ate at a little barbeque restaurant–BBQ sandwiches with slaw and fries and hush puppies–and once we were sufficiently stuffed, we left and then sprawled ourselves on some sand.

We spent hours on the beach, staring out into the ocean, talking about life and art, playing Bocce. Up the beach a ways, a couple of men wrestled with some fishing poles. Watching them, we realized they were about to bring something in. A little knot of people came to watch. It seemed to be taking them quite a while to get the fish in. What was the trouble? We saw something in the water and realized that what they were bringing in was not a fish. It was a sting ray.

Jesse and I hopped up and jogged down the beach to watch. The men finally got the ray out of the waves, somehow managing to avoid its barb. They cut the line and removed the hook as the ray flapped on the sand. It was beautiful–its dark waving fins, its pale white belly, its whipping tail. The men moved the ray back to the water, and it swam away, much to our collective relief.

The rest of the afternoon was sleepy. There was just a little hint of a chill in the air, and at one point I used an extra beach towel as a blanket, shielding myself from the wind. Fall was, it appeared, actually on its way. This would probably be the last time we went to the beach until next summer.

Eventually, we bid the ocean goodbye and made our way back home. The rest of the weekend, we talked about and worked on creative projects. I edited my book. Jesse worked on a homemade musical instrument. Sunday afternoon, we walked around the mall and came up with story ideas, inventing a little relay-like game. I’d come up with an idea, and then Jesse would come up with one, and then we’d start over again. It was fun. It was silly. And we had a long list of characters and conflicts when we were done.

Now another week is under way. Jesse and I got up early this morning so we’d have time to work on our projects, and we both had a productive Monday. I hope this is a sign the week will be a good one, though I hope it’s at least a little less tiring than the one before it…

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