Several weeks ago, my friend Maile (she of the amazing Epiphanie camera bags for women), invited me, our friend Laura and our families to spend a weekend with her family at a beach house in Port Aransas, Texas.
Now I'm going to admit something to you that I'm not particularly proud of, but hey, it's who I am, whaddya gonna do: I am a complete and total beach snob. It comes, of course, from being from a Caribbean island; nonetheless, the truth is that my only experience with Texas beaches to this point was limited to Galveston, and even Galvestonians have to admit that their beach is not the best. In fact, every time I ever go to Galveston, I don't even bother to put on my swimsuit, because there's really no reason for me to go into that dark, silty water. The town? Absolutely, no question that Galveston is a great little town. But the beach? Yeah ... no.
Still, in a fit of uncharacteristic optimism, right before leaving for our trip late last week I packed my swimsuit, just in case Port Aransas surprised me. As you can see above, it totally did.
And as you can see below, our kids were enchanted from the word "go."
The kids ran to the water, and Marcus ran after them, to make sure they didn't get into any trouble. This, of course, left the rest of us adults alone to do more important things.
Like, you know, prepare the rum punches, and, of course, recline.
Photo by Laura Mayes.
The coast was teeming with life that day: from the shore we could see dolphins playing just beyond the breakers. Laura ventured out into the water with Marcus and the kids, and then she rather quickly ventured back in.
"We saw a couple of stingrays," she said nervously. "I think I'll stay under the umbrellas."
And so, she did, and we all sat there, watching the waves and Marcus playing with the kids, and generally having a great time.
After about 30 minutes, we saw Marcus and the group slowly making their way back to shore. The kids promptly plopped down to start digging in the sand, except for Emily, who ran ahead of everyone to announce to those of us under the umbrellas:
"Uncle Marcus got bitten by a fish!"
Marcus came walking up, not looking too concerned, and I asked, "Did you get bitten?"
"Yeah, a little bit," he said, and I looked down at his foot, to find his toes covered in blood. I quickly counted. They were all there.
"Dude, what happened?!" I said, alarmed.
"I think I stepped on a stingray," he said, surprisingly calm. "It stings a bit, and I can start to feel the pain radiating up to my thigh."
And this, my friends, is why it's good to live in the Information Age: iPhones flew out of nowhere, as we all quickly googled can you die from a stingray sting, how do you treat it and oh my heavens isn't this how steve irwin died. We learned that yes, indeed, it was the cause of Steve Irwin's death (though it was because the stingray's barb caught him directly in the heart), but that stingray stings are rarely fatal. We also quickly ruled out peeing on the wound (that's for jellyfish stings, it turns out, much to the boys' dismay), and finally discovered that near-boiling water on a stingray sting is the best treatment, to help neutralize the venom.
"Marcus, I think we should go up to the house and boil some water," I said.
"Don't be daft," he responded. "I'm fine. It's really not getting any worse."
He really seemed okay, so we punished him by making him sit and dig sandcastles with the kids, while the rest of the adults watched him like a hawk for any untoward behaviours -- like, you know, anaphylactic shock, or unexpected barking.
Luckily, within an hour or two, the pain subsided completely -- we suspect the stingray must have been a baby. Nonetheless and needless to say, for the rest of the trip we were pretty fanatical about keeping the kids really close to the shore. They didn't seem too upset -- after all, there were gulls to feed.
Stingray excitement notwithstanding, this weekend was truly an excellent getaway. We ate well, we drank well, and we played well. Our kids loved each other and loved the beach, and the adults loved spending time together without any schedules, agendas, meetings or conference sessions to attend. It was a glorious time, and more than once I found myself marveling at how happy my life was, and how much I loved my friends and family.
And soon, school starts for the kids. What a wonderful way to end the summer.
Images: Photographed with my Nikon D300, 17-50mm Tamron lens.