“Julie, it’s not much. I’d just a soon bulldoze it and start over.”
As they left their driveway, her heart could have exploded like a balloon, too full. She could already smell the salt. She has salt water running through her veins. The lake is convenient but it is the gulf coast that has a grip on her heart and soul.
He indulges her love affair with the salt air as he makes mention of the destruction wrought on anything that sits in one spot for too long. The mild destruction on anything just passing through. Secretly, he loves it, maybe not as much as her. No, not as much as her.
They arrived at the camp, two short hours from their driveway. It was just as she had hoped. It looked a little lonely but beckoned them to come in. They obliged.
The room was small. An old blue leather recliner, well worn with stories I’m sure, sat in the corner, inviting. A couch, plaid blanket strewn across, knowing that it would serve its’ purpose after they spend a few hours in the salty air.
After a quick survey of the rest of their borrowed palace they were pleased.
Before they unpacked, they headed down to check the crab traps, baited before their arrival.
The canal was heavy with traffic. Boats, jet-skis and the likes. It was a highway of sorts to the bigger water. Families and friends making memories, a heartwarming sentiment at first. The wake would eventually cause some resentment.
After a quick walk back to the house, a path that would be traveled slower over the next few days, they lovingly chunked, what few personal items they could tuck away in a duffel bag, on the couch with the plaid blanket. Neither the boy or girl brought much. A few pairs of shorts and a couple of shirts, some odds and ends. The most import items were in the Weld-Craft. That aluminum boat was just as excited as they were about the upcoming adventures in the uncharted waters. She’d never been in salt.
As the sun was starting to make her descent, they decided they would give it a go off the pier.
Forced bait of choice for the evening, fresh dead shrimp purchased from Charlies, a sad excuse for a bait-house. Rods, chairs and mosquito spray in tow and they were off.
They caught a couple of hard-heads and a few croaker. The spray kept the mosquitoes at bay.
She was “pretending like she just didn’t care.” Her mantra as she fishes. It is meant to convey an attitude of complacency, as she is happy, just being on the water. An inside joke between she and her family. Truth be known she cares. She cares a lot. She waits impatiently, all the while seeming aloof. The waiting pays off.
Set just like he showed her, what seemed like yesterday but in reality was more distant than she cared to recognize, the drag began to sing. Thankfully, she hadn’t loosened her grip on the pink rod, while pretending like she just didn’t care. She set the hook, hard. Whatever was on the other end of that line suddenly realized the mistake it had made. Whatever it was swam against the current, possessing a fervent passion to break free. She loosened her drag a bit. They love to fish with light tackle. Today, 10 pound test might not withstand the tension and she would be heartbroken.
While her heart pounded, she remembered he always tells her “don’t horse it it. Let if run if it wants. Just take it easy.” She did. It paid off.
When the light pink shimmer flashed in the caramel colored water, she knew. It was a beautiful red. She got it on the pier. No net, it’s a little game they play, not always working in their favor but today it did. She consciously observed the spot on both sides of her tail. Each spot, a unique calling card, no two are the same. After appreciating the fight and her beauty, the girl released the tail spotted beauty back into her salty sanctuary. She finned about for about for a few seconds as if to say thank you and then darted off against the current. She would be the last decent sized fish they would see.
After giving it a go for a little while longer, they decided to call it quits for the night and grab a bite to eat.
As they walked back to the palace on the canal, earth crunching beneath their feet, she almost stepped on a sole patch of delicate yellow flowers. They looked out of place. Everything surrounding them cracked, dry or dead.
She couldn’t resist. She knelt down as close to their level as she could get and took a quick picture. She didn’t want to forget the thought she was having. That little patch of delicate yellow flowers in the harsh salt environment was a reminder of sorts. The boy and girl, like the flowers survived and blossomed. Albeit, surroundings harsh at times, they forged through the dry cracked earth and made their way. Look at them now. Those flowers, possibly her favorite picture from the adventure.
Although the cooler was bulging with “healthy food” they decided that they would live high on the hog, if only for the weekend. They decided to go to the Crab Trap. In reality, they didn’t have a choice. It was the only eatin’ joint for miles. Too bad they didn’t drink, beer on ice free for the taking, just outside the front door.
She noticed a few creases around the outer confines of his eyes. Too much sun, maybe a few extra years or possibly a combination of both. She realized he gets more handsome with age. She giggles to herself because he wears “cheaters” to read the menu.
She holds his hand and wonders how they ever made it this far.
The Crab Trap didn’t disappoint. They ordered the same thing, grilled shrimp tacos and ice water. A nod to the connection that had once been nonexistent.
Bellies full, they headed back, watched a fishing show on TV, and turned in by nine. Both eagerly awaiting the maiden voyage of the vessel that had only been touched by the fresh water of creeks and lakes.
Would it be all they hoped for? Catching is the goal but she will take what she can get. Memories in the salt air, either way.