We’re on Bolivar (rhymes with Oliver) Peninsula, a free, five-mile ferry ride east of Galveston. We’re here for the month, staying at a private RV park two short blocks from the beach, with full hookups, fast wifi, and free laundry. Our good friend, Judy, came to visit this past week, so we’ve been exploring the islands, the restaurants, and searching for birds.
In previous years, this part of the Gulf Coast has been sunny and 70’s in February, but, like everywhere else in the country, that is not the case this year. It’s been in the 40’s and 50’s, rainy, foggy, and overcast almost every day since we’ve been here.
There was one day where the sun came out between clouds, and we drove out to High Island, at the east end of the Peninsula. High Island sits on a salt mound nearly 40’ above sea level and it’s the the last land mass for thousands of migrating birds in the spring and fall. Since this is still winter, there were only a few varieties, but Marika and Judy enjoyed them. And I was grateful to be outside, walking a new trail.
One cold but dry day, we took the ferry to Galveston and walked along the uprooted sidewalks of Broadway, admiring the architecture of the ornate mansions and Victorian homes. We went back to Galveston on the windiest day and took a tour of the famous Bishop’s Castle, listed as one of the top 100 architectural masterpieces in America. We learned about the petroleum industry at the Ocean Star Offshore Oil Rig Museum, and found a few of the carved tree sculptures done by artists after Hurricane Ike.
We ate crab balls and king cake, and chalupas that looked like just like tostadas. We brought home garlic bread and Indian foods from the local farmers market, and bought fresh shrimp and red snapper at a fish market on the pier. We were delighted by the pelicans, waiting outside on the docks.
Every morning Judy, Cody, and I went for beach walk. Even in the wind and drizzle, because we could. And wherever we drove, we stopped to watch the shorebirds and cormorants, herons, and egrets wading in the ditch waters along the roads.
One morning it was dry enough for Marika and Judy to have their morning coffee outside under the palapa at the edge of the RV Park. The covered patio area overlooks a ten-foot-wide slough that attracts herons, various ducks and my new favorite bird, the roseate spoonbill. Their feathers range from pale pink to cotton candy, with a smear of lipstick-red on their wings. I watched from the dinette window as they poked their spoon-shaped bills into the water along the grass, looking for food.
This past weekend was Mardi Gras, and they definitely celebrate here on the Gulf Coast. Judy and I drove the car up to the main highway so we’d have a dry seat for the town’s Mardi Gras parade. I asked her, how many beads do you think we’ll get? She said 5. I said 7. (We donated our loot to the local Humane Society for next year’s parade.)
Judy left yesterday and, now that the whirlwind of getting here, and having company is over, I’m ready to settle in to simply be-ing here for the next three weeks.
It’s been a dream for more than a year, to spend a winter month on the Gulf Coast. While I’m disappointed that there aren’t more birds for Marika, I am so happy to be at the beach, my very favorite place for my body and my soul. I’m excited for the time and space to do some inner exploring, to tap into what I might like to do with my gifts and talents, and how I can best serve.
I know I want to take a class, learn something new. But I’m not sure what yet. I’ve been doing a lot of asking, and opening, and letting go, and reminding myself that I don’t have to rush, or know, or feel comfortable, or make big decisions, or plan lifetime goals.
I just need to show up and lean in to being right here: on the coast, at an affordable, quiet, friendly RV park, with local seafood, a fabulous walking beach, places for Cody to run, and pelicans and roseate spoonbills right out our window.
And when I start to feel anxious and uncomfortable, I smoke a little, put on however many layers of clothes and coats I need, and take Cody for a walk. To get out of my head. To breathe in the moist air. To hear the rolling waves of the Gulf, just two blocks away.
And then some small thing, maybe the sherbet colors of the beach houses, or a heron flying by, brings me back to the moment, and how simply grateful I am to be living this life.