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Beach Bears

This is time of the year with the greatest chance of missing the bus.  May is an odd in-between time, when school hasn’t officially ended but summer activities have kicked in.  It suddenly becomes tougher to get going in the mornings.  With the sun rising earlier, I would think it would be easier to wake up than it was during the winter months, but the arrival of May reminds me that school is coming to a close in a few short weeks.  I find it harder to spring out of bed to tend to breakfast and make the kids’ lunches and even the children seem to drag more than usual. In Atlanta, many neighborhood swim leagues start their swimming and diving practices to gear up for meets that begin before school even gets out.  Parents and students find themselves with one foot still in school and one already in the pool, along with half their minds. My thoughts always wander to what lies beyond school, like waking up naturally, instead of the alarm jolting me into the world at 6:30, sitting poolside, watching the kids play water games, grabbing ice-cream on the way home while still in our bathing suits; more cookouts, less cooking. The other day, I pulled out the pool bag that has resided in the linen closet for nearly a year, to look for goggles.  I found sunscreen, plastic forks and spoons, the sunglasses I had been looking for since last summer, a few crinkled dollar bills and coins, thrown in to purchase items from the vending machine at the pool or treats from the ice cream truck.  There were seashells from our week-long trip to SeacrestBeach last August, along with some of its powdery sand that the GulfCoast is well known for and that feels so good on the toes. I began to reminisce about that trip:  how we had been the lucky winners of a beach trip our elementary school's Casino Night and had invited three families to fill up the large house that slept 18.   How we had enjoyed the gorgeous beach views and gawked at the  gigantic oceanfront mansions while riding our bikes; had tried to cycle all of the way to SeasideBeach but turned back because it was further than we expected.  Our butts were so sore that we walked like cowboys for a few hours afterwards; later, how our nighttime stroll to the beach was interrupted by the security guard on his golf cart, who stopped us with a warning, “Be careful, with your young ones.  Someone reported that they saw a black bear in the neighborhood." “Bears at the beach?” we had shrieked, “How big is it?” “About yay high - 5 1/2 feet tall.” We proceeded to walk to the beach with teenagers jumping at every noise and the younger ones, with sticks in hand, excitedly calling out to the bear.  We did not see a bear that night, but my youngest daughter crawled into our bed, afraid that she would wake up to a bear in her room. We played Scattegories every night, laughing until we couldn’t stay up any longer, and survived sharing a bathroom with five teenage girls. I began to recollect more great moments of past summers and before I knew it, it was 3:40, past the time to pick up Rachel from the bus stop.  I ran to the stop and fortunately made it in time to meet her off the bus.  When we arrived back at the house, I returned the items back to the beach bag, making a mental note to come back later to reminisce some more, and to remember to collect new memories into my beach bag this summer for next year.  Later, I saw an e-mail from a neighbor that there had been a bear-sighting in our neighborhood.  I could only wonder if it was the same bear from our beach trip.

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