Wednesday, February 18, 2009


    I like everything about this picture.

   The hint of a white fence bordering stairs that lead to somewhere that is left up to the imagination. 

   Maybe a cottage. 
   Maybe the boardwalk. 
   Maybe one of those awful souvenir shops that beaches never seem to lack; and no matter how tacky they are you are secretly grateful for its presence because when you need a sweatshirt or some once-again-forgotten sun block, you know exactly where to go.  

   And that's how they get you, I guess.

   However, allow me to note that those souvenir shops have never once sold my favorite parts of the beach. I suppose a shot glass is a lot easier to sell than boxing up the tide along with all of the tiny sand crabs whose instincts burrow them deep deep deep when a wave sets them down somewhere. I guess one of those oh so classy lady-in-a-bikini oversized t-shirts make for an easier purchase than a glimpse of the sun, large and looming and passionately red while making a spectacular final bow for the day before it dips under the horizon.  

  It's funny how most of the souvenirs sold at the beach don't even come close to capturing the mystery, the vastness, the many changing moods of the shore.  And I think it's better that way. Those things should never be for sale. 

  But pack to the photo...The tall palm trees that stand like sentinels on the shore. 

  They remind me of the way America was constantly looking over her shoulder for German U-boats during World War II. When I drive to the Delaware shore I always make sure to watch for the lookout towers that still dot the sand today. According to lore, some of our navy men did spot one or two of those underwater enemy ships off the coast of Delaware.  That's the extent of the story since no coastal battle ever took place their during WWII, but it was enough for me to imagine those U-boats rising like some monster from the deep.  What that would have been like to see, how it would have felt to raise the alarm.  

  Speaking of raising the alarm, my brother Jason and I got really close to doing just that in Cornwall. We were exploring a small coastal town with our family and saw that there was a bell tower connected to a restaurant of some sort. We got the idea to go in and ask them if we could ring the bell.

   Why not? Bells are for ringing, are they not? 

   We burst through the doors of the restaurant only to discover that it is a very tiny restaurant indeed and basically once you get through the doors you are standing in the middle of the room, much like when you were a kid in the pickle pot.  

    Only this time the ring of people around you are definitely not playing duck, duck, goose. Instead, they are a very sophisticated set of Brits drinking their midday tea--a pastime that they happen to take quite seriously. 

     Another thing they take quite seriously is bell ringing, in case you ever wondered.  Trust me, I know. Now.

     We find ourselves the center of attention and why not? It's not every day two young American teenagers disrupt tea in Cornwall. Not actually having rehearsed what we were going to say to get these kind and mannerly people to allow us to ring their bell, Jason simply stammers out, We were wondering if we could ring the bell?

     Gasps emit from around every beautifully laden tea table in the room.  Tea cups are hastily placed back into their saucers with decided pings adding some treble to the cacophony of shock.  

    Someone recovers their sense enough to ask us in a beautiful lilting accent, Why ever would you want to do that

    Jason continues, We just thought it'd be so fun...We've never rung a big bell like that before...

    Truth be told we'd never rung any bell before.

     That same someone puts the whole matter to rest by telling us, No, no, no--the whole town would think there's been an invasion!

     We both murmur our apologies and sheepishly back out of the room.  

      An invasion? In 1994?! Huh. 

      It is their bell, after all. If they want to reserve it for the sole purpose of alerting the town of an imminent invasion, so be it.  

      But I'm guessing that bell won't be ringing anytime soon.
     Anyway, I love that picture of the beach here in Ft. Lauderdale and wanted to share it with you.  


Mom said...

from what I understand, beautiful bucolic Cornwall wants to be independent of England and there fore, in their minds, invasion could be imminent. Wasn't that a wonderful, memorable vacation, right? :)

Jessica Latshaw said...

Yes that vacay was so fun! Minus Jase getting sick as a dog and throwing his alarm clock across the room...;-)

The DJF said...

We just spent 2 weeks in Ft. Lauderdale last month and it was BEAUTIFUL. Enjoy the weather and the beach!

jason said...

I still remember the look of total and complete shock on those cornish faces! Course, that was nothing compared to Jenna when she would rock people from behind.

kathiek said...

Lovely picture...funny story about Cornwall, Jess!

Michele said...

What, oh what, is a pickle pot?

jason said...

Michele didn't you ever play duck duck goose?

Jessica Latshaw said...

a definition of duck duck goose (and the pickle pot, for michele):

In this game, kids sit down in a circle facing each other. One person is "it" and walks around the circle. As they walk around, they tap people's heads and say whether they are a "duck" or a "goose". Once someone is the "goose" they get up and try to chase "it" around the circle. The goal is to tap that person before they are able sit down in the "goose's" spot. If the goose is not able to do this, they become "it" for the next round and play continues. If they do tap the "it" person, the person tagged has to sit in the center of the circle.

And the center of the circle is know as the "pickle pot."

Now you get it?

Jessica Latshaw said...

and jase--remember when Pop was so embarrassed of what you would make Jenna do?

And remember how Jenna would do it to TOTAL STRANGERS?!?!?!

Jessica Latshaw said...

and Donnel--I bet you enjoyed Ft. Lauderdale while I was enduring Detroit!

Lucky you;-)