~Kiawah~

Recently, I happened to be in the right place at the right time to receive an amazing invitation to Kiawah Island, South Carolina with some wonderful women for a few days.    It’s good to travel to nice places, but it’s more important to travel with good people.  This unexpected trip was both, and so much more.

This post is all about capturing the small moments, those “bookend” times of the day when one can carve out a few moments of solitude to simply be, and simply be aware of where we are and grateful for our time here.

Allow me to share a few of the beautiful sights and moments experienced within these 13 or so square miles along the edge of the Atlantic.  First up:  Arrival!

Welcome to Kiawah Island
That feeling when you know you’re close to somewhere special is even more exciting when greeted by such a beautiful sign.

This beautiful place has miles and miles and miles of trails.  Level, well-marked, well maintained trails.  Where the trails end, there are more miles of well packed sand at the edge of the Atlantic, just perfect for strolling or cruising.  Walking and bicycling were the preferred means of transportation throughout much of the stay on Kiawah.

With bags stowed in the condo and sunset approaching, one of the first activities was to find a spot for the best show in the area!   A little side note here:  Early in the drive, our theme song became Castle On The Hill by Ed Sheeran.  Looking at this photo now, watching the pelicans fly over the nearby Sanctuary Hotel that could easily be mistaken for a castle in the sunset that first evening, that song fits so well.

Brilliant Sunset over The Sanctuary Resort ~ Kiawah Island, SC
..a lone gull, a flock of pelicans, and an amazing mid-week sunset..

Mornings are a favorite time for me, especially at the beach, any beach, but I had no idea the beauty and majesty awaiting me on my first morning walk at Kiawah.  I happened upon a couple of bucks looking for breakfast!

Buck Surveying the dunes
..caught sight of a buck surveying the dunes on my morning walk…

He must have heard me behind him and turned around.  For just a few seconds he walked towards me on the boardwalk.  I backed up accordingly to give him his space.

Beautiful buck on the boardwalk
..Let me just slip off to the side to get out of his way…

After a couple of minutes, the buck turned around and joined a friend for breakfast in the dunes.   A lovely cardinal flew into the frame just as I snapped the picture.

Morning Company
This is how I spent my first morning on Kiawah, in the company of beautiful creatures at the edge of the vast ocean.   No other humans to be seen.  #GodSightings!

The condo where we stayed had a wonderful kitchen with ample beautiful and comfortable spaces to enjoy meals and conversation.  But one night we ventured out to a restaurant at Bohicket Marina. Oh.My.Goodness!  Yes, the food was delicious, yes the company was delightful, yes the conversation included A LOT of laughter; but upon exiting the building we were greeted by the twilight sky settling in for the night over the boats.

Boats at Bohicket
Last rays of sunlight fading ahead of gathering clouds. ‘Tis good the boats are in the harbor this night.

Heavy clouds gathered throughout the night.  Summertime thunderstorms are a reality here, but the boats seem determined to shine with their reflections despite the imposing darkness.

Marina at night ~ The stuff of dreams!
….calm waters below, troubled skies above….

The next morning the clouds seemed to want to linger a little longer and enjoy the sunrise as well.  Who could blame them?  Later this beach will be filled with people enjoying the sunshine and surf, but for now it’s nearly deserted.

Morning sunrise through clouds at Kiaway
The sun seems to be blanketed by the clouds, rising from them as if slowly waking to the new day itself.

I love those glowing moments, when even the air seems saturated between the actual light and the reflection from the water.

More morning scenes from Kiawah ~ lone shrimp boat heading out to sea.

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More morning scenes from Kiawah ~ Sunrise reflections from the pond.  There’s a sign warning of alligators, but they stayed out of sight on this trip.

Sunrise reflection on one of the greens
Morning sunrise and clouds at one of the greens on the golf course.

As much as I adore the pictures of and on the beach, this picture is one of my favorites from this trip.  This is the walkway to the beach following an overnight rainstorm.  Fallen leaves, blown by the wind and rain, lay undisturbed as I approached on my morning walk.  Perhaps in this picture there’s a hint of how spectacular autumn will be along this trail.

Walkway to the beach ~ Kiawah
Storm soaked boardwalk and fallen leaves ~ Beautiful Sights at Kiawah

What you don’t see in these pictures are the in-between moments.  Images of conversations over coffee, morning chats, laughter over wine, bonding between a mother and her recent high school graduate daughter, friendships growing, rest and renewal.

What I hope you see are images of a beautiful place where these and more wonderful things happened, all  because one person chose to extend an amazing invitation.

While leaving, I stopped for one more sign.  The Sanctuary Resort sign adorned with Old Glory in preparation for the Independence Day festivities.

Departure Sign:  Sanctuary
Sanctuary – So much more than a resort hotel.

Our sign upon arrival simply stated where we were, our sign on departure simply stated what we had experienced ~ Sanctuary.

Peace.

 

“Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing.”

  1 Thessalonians 5:11

 

 

 

 

 

Thunderstorm Air 

You can see it in the approaching clouds, an angry sky ushering in the thunderstorm air, energetic, powerful, destructive and cleansing all at once.  It’s terrifyingly beautiful.

This was the scene earlier this afternoon a little ways up the road.  That’s the storm rolling in over the Cane Creek Mountains.   Yes, I stopped in the middle of the road to take the picture, there was no other traffic around.

Fast forward a couple of hours, and I’m home enjoying the rhythm of the rain rushing through the leaves, driven hard by the wind.   That same wind is dancing with the branches, making them swirl and sway in a summer storm tango.

Hang in there big trees, hang in there!

I’m drinking it all in from the relative shelter of a screened in porch: the wind, the rain, the grumbling thunder and even the lightning that cracks across the darkening sky.

This is a good one, and I hope you all have the opportunity to enjoy the lullaby of the rain and wind through the thunderstorm air.

~ Can’t wait to see the sunrise tomorrow, somehow sunshine always seems brighter after storms  ~

Peace.

Shade trees, green pastures, and a blue eyed baby horse named Surprise.

My cousin, who’s really more like a sister, called me this afternoon with an invitation to go see an almost 3 week old baby horse.  I think I actually said “Awwwwwww” on the phone.   A short few minutes later we were through the gate and being greeted by Miss Tia, the Mastiff, who accepted our head scratches as a sign we meant no ill-will towards “her” horses.

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That’s really how we do a lot of things in this family, last minute not really planned.  I don’t think the animals minded that we hadn’t made an appointment with them.

I view horses as beautiful, graceful, powerful creatures, I have a great deal of respect and a little dose of fear when I’m near the large ones.  Those are the ones I admire from a safe distance.

Nuzzle Time
Nuzzle Time

But the small ones, the baby colts are different.  They’re so sweet, a little goofy, just looking for some nuzzles, scratches, play time and food.

 

Venturing out across part of the pasture, Surprise looked up to see she was pretty far away from her mama and started running back.  If you’ve never seen a baby horse kick up its hoofs and run, please do yourself a favor and find some way to witness that.  It’s like witnessing laughter in motion.

Blue Eyed Surprise
The baby colt’s name is Surprise. Look at those blue eyes!

Her eyes matched the sky behind the storm clouds rolling in.  Just gorgeous.

Peek a Boo
Well, Hello There!

Close to her mama, she seems content to spend the afternoon enjoying the shade and looking at her human and her dog, which is nearly as big as she.

Mom Raven & Baby Surprise
Grazing under the shade trees

What’s the best camera?  The one you have with you.   These photos were taken with my Iphone 6 camera.  Perhaps one day soon I’ll take a different camera back and get a few clearer shots, but then that wouldn’t be spontaneous at all.  Those last-minute out of the blue calls seem to find me in the most amazing places with some of the most wonderful people I know.     Enjoy summer everyone, every single unplanned moment of it!

Peace.

New day, Old books & Strong coffee

These past few weeks have been filled with changes, growth, and adventure for our family and many of our friends.   Graduations, birthdays and other anniversaries all fell in May.  Goal trips off the bucket lists have carried over into the first part of June, and suddenly I find myself on my front steps realizing we’re basically halfway through 2017!   Wow!    That was fast!

So, on this mid year morning, this new day, I found myself thinking on what may lie ahead, and even though I know tomorrow is never promised here on Earth, I have challenges and fears to conquer.  I have hopes and dreams that need some acknowledgement and attention if they ever stand a chance of coming to fruition.

It’s day one.   I have strong coffee, morning light, and old words.  Today’s reminder from my grandfather’s book of ancient prayers, very much paraphrased:  “Lord, I stand before you calling for grace and mercy, refresh my spirit and kindle my coldness with the fire of your love, enlighten my blindness with the brightness of your presence”. (Thomas A Kempis)

One of the things I love about that old book is how the prayers and reflections seem to speak to whatever’s happening for me.  I don’t think I could have found a better guide for beginning this new day and these new chapters.

Peace to you all!  Stay safe out there everyone!

 

Kel.

The Monday Moon

The moon won’t be full for a couple of days yet, but looking up earlier tonight I couldn’t help but smile.  So, I put my coffee down long enough to pick up my camera and take a stroll outside.

It really is beautiful, and it’s lighting up the entire landscape like it doesn’t even care that it isn’t full yet.

Perhaps there’s a lesson for me from this not quite full moon.  Perhaps the subtle changes, along the way to any given goal, are moments to be observed and illuminated. Perhaps it’s a reminder to be bright at any stage of the journey.  Perhaps, too, it’s a wonderful reminder on this Monday night to keep looking up.

Peace to you all.

 

A Celebration of Living

It was just after sunrise when I got the call.  “Do you want to go get a cup of coffee?”  And so set the pace of the day.  It’s not either of our birthdays.  It’s just an average Friday,  but for us, it’s a celebration of living.  The “Us” is myself and Rita.  Rita is technically related to me, but we’re so close in age that we’ve been kind of built in best friends all of our lives.  She’s only 8 months older than I am and  we’ve been mistaken for sisters, twins even at different points throughout our lives.   We’ve sang together, we’ve cried together, we’ve laughed together, we’ve fought together – but seldom if ever –  with one another.

We’ve witnessed each other’s weddings; we’ve hosted baby showers and birthday parties for one another; laughed with and at one another over “questionable” choices we’ve made over the years; watched our children grow up in to wonderful young adults themselves, and recognized the blessings all of this truly is.  We’re in the early stages of  planning an amazing 50th birthday event in a few years when that milestone happens for both of us.

Today, however, while much of the world was glued to the news outlets casting opinions and would-be solutions for the issues of the day,  we stepped away for a few hours and went to a little coffee shop overlooking an ancient river swollen from recent rains.  In sight of bald eagles and hawks hunting under rolling storm clouds, we sat for hours with huge cups of hot chocolate and appreciated the fact that we’ve survived to this day.img_8440

It was five years ago this month a series of heart attacks targeted her.  It was two and three years ago other issues attacked me.  We’ve both come to realize April, for all its new life and springtime blossoms, is a time of reflection and true celebration.  Every year around this time we find a day and get together away from the rest of the world. Some years we drop the top in a convertible and cruise the back roads. Some years we sit on old fallen trees in the back woods here with cups of strong coffee and talk for hours with the dogs watching us like we’re trespassing.   Some years we laugh until we cry in realization that we’re still here.

Both of us.

And we’ve been given the amazing gifts and experiences in our lives

There is no way to know what tomorrow holds in store for any of us in the future, and that’s ok.  Today, we don’t worry about that. Today, we celebrate and are thankful for the blessings in and of our lives; and we celebrate the fact that now and again it’s important to take time away from the demands of life and be grateful for the opportunity to be truly living!

 

 

 

Meeting Nicholas 

The saying goes “A picture is worth a thousand words” sometimes though, we hold memories that no picture could ever contain.

It had been just over a month since we met Nichole, a young pregnant girl, wanting to find a married couple to adopt her child.  My husband and I were lucky enough to be friends with her pre-natal care nurse who thought of us when this young girl, in many ways still a child herself, mentioned adoption was what she wanted for her unborn baby.

I remember noticing when we arrived to that conference how young she actually looked. The nurse had told us she was young. I had tried to prepare myself to see a young teenager, but I was not prepared for how similar this child looked to one of my own nieces at that age. Aware that my staring was probably making her very uncomfortable I confessed to her that her mother reminded me of one of my sisters, and that she herself reminded me of my favorite niece. She smiled at that statement, and started talking to us.

“My nurse told me a lot about you, I thought you would want this ” she said offering me an ultrasound print. I took it from her and stared at it. It wasn’t a blurry image full of static like other ultrasound pictures where you have to have someone point out the baby in the image for you. No, this was a clear image of a baby with a strong jawline and angled nose; distinctive features which mirrored those in the face of the young girl sitting across from me. “This is a really clear image”, I said to her. She glanced at it for a second then clarified “He’s a boy”.

The next few hours seemed to fly by. She told us about her pregnancy, how she had tried to keep it hidden from her mother; how the boy involved had denied being the father; and how some of her friends had tried to persuade her to have an abortion. We each got a crash-course in the other’s family history. Details that would normally take years to know even in a close friendship were compressed into an afternoon. Everything from hereditary traits and possible genetic health concerns of the baby to where we would most likely take him for family vacations was discussed.

The entire time, I held that ultrasound image. I looked from the picture to the girl sitting across from me and wondered what her expectations of us were and if we were measuring up anywhere close to them.

All of the adoption paperwork had been prepared that day, and completed as much as possible. All those forms were just waiting in a file, waiting for the birth of the baby, and for the final signatures allowing the petition to be filed. As we were leaving I held out the ultrasound image for her. “No”, she said, “That’s yours”. At that point, I had hope and I held it in my hands.

That was not the first time we had begun the process, met with a birth mother who was absolutely certain they could not keep their child and would like to have it adopted, only to receive a call the day the baby was born letting us know the mother has changed her mind and decided to keep her child. That very real and very heartbreaking scenario weighed heavily on my mind following this interview. The harsh reality is the only way I get a baby is if someone decides to give me one, and as wonderful as the thought of being a mother is, the thought of denying someone else that experience is hard to deal with. Maybe this time would be different, better.

We had very little contact with Nichole throughout the remainder of February and the first part of March. Looking at the little ultrasound picture she gave me, I decided I wouldn’t be strong enough to keep any hope of parenthood if this adoption failed and I had to return or give away more baby things like before. I did not buy a bassinet, sheets, diapers, or baby clothes this time. I tried my best to carry on as normal over the next few weeks, waiting for any news about the baby.

The call came around 4:30 a.m. on March 23, 1999. It was Nichole’s mother with a short, quick message:”We’re on the way to the hospital, meet us there”. It was time. We both dressed and were out the door in record time, almost holding our breath as we drove though the still black cold morning in silence. When we reached the maternity ward we were quickly escorted to Nichole’s recovery room. The baby had been born just a few minutes before we arrived. We stood by the bed talking with Nichole and her mother; it had been a quick and easy delivery for her and the baby was healthy.

The nurse finished cleaning him, wrapped him in a small white blanket, capped his little head with a blue toboggan and brought him to the bedside. Even all snuggled up he was immediately recognizable. He looked remarkably like the ultrasound image, and like the girl recovering in the bed. The nurse then asked Nichole if she wanted to hold her son. She looked at him for a moment. I braced myself. She was looking at this beautiful, perfect baby, and I wouldn’t blame her if she changed her mind. Very quietly she told the nurse, “No, that’s her baby”.

The nurse laid him in my arms and asked what his name would be. I knew Nichole was looking at me but I couldn’t look away from his tiny face. “Nicholas” I said, “His name is Nicholas”.