Saturday, January 15, 2011

Island Love Affair

No, I’ve not become infatuated with a local waterman, although it’s quite possible that some day I may be swept off my feet by one of these gentle men who call me “ma’am” in that delightful Southern accent. Their manners are impeccable, at least what I’ve seen in the bookstore so far. They have beautifully weathered faces, laugh easily, and I’ve certainly come to appreciate the difficult jobs they do. I’m waiting for the gentleman who recently purchased most of my Louis L’Amour paperbacks to bring me the fresh flounder he promised, another reason I may easily fall under their spell someday.

The love affair I’m telling you about today is between Rupert and Cheeka. Sadly, Rupert seems to have left any memory of his Northern love interest, MacKinley, far behind him. MacKinley is a large, white dog adopted by close friends who quickly became the alpha dog in the relationship, putting Rupert in his place at their first meeting. Something happened along the way, though, because Rupert, an extremely selective eater, became comfortable enough to devour MacKinley’s dog food whenever we visited our friends.

We met Cheeka and her owner on our morning walks on the Island Trail here on the Island, about the only place dogs are allowed. Rupert typically greets any other dog in a rather unfriendly manner. He believes the Island Trail is there for his use alone and he’s not one to welcome company. Cheeka is the kind of dog that Rupert usually barks determinedly at, the kind of dog we've referred to in the past as a “yippy” dog, because when Rupert would bark at such a dog, he’d get a “yippy” bark right back. Cheeka, however, is quiet and subdued. Her owner explained to us that she had been recently adopted and had come from a home where her previous owners were in the process of divorcing, a situation where a lot of “kicking and shoving” had gone on with Cheeka often caught in the middle.

Rupert would instantly transform into a gentleman at the sight of tiny Cheeka approaching us on the Island Trail. He would sit beside us, regarding her as we chatted with Cheeka’s owner, allowing her to pass with never a bark. After several days of this, Rupert would begin whining in excitement when he’d see Cheeka approaching, then start prancing, but would still sit again once she was beside us. Cheeka was not ready for him yet. Somehow he knew this.

This morning we were late going for our walk. We met Cheeka and her owner on the road to the Island Trail. We had to roll our car window down so Rupert could see Cheeka as the whine from the back seat was so loud we couldn’t hear. And as we were chatting with Cheeka’s owners, darling Cheeka put her paws on the side of our car, trying to reach Rupert, “Juliet” courting her “Romeo”.

I’m anxious to see what their next meeting brings.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011


My father always told me I expected too much. He also told me, beginning at a very early age, that life wasn’t always fair, that the sooner I learned to accept that, the easier my life might be.

I’ve always struggled with this. That whole “do unto others as you’d have them do unto you” seems like a good way to live your life. If I want someone to respect me, I need to respect them. If I don’t want to be lied to, I don’t lie to others. If I want my back scratched, I scratch yours. It seems simple to me. It doesn’t feel as though I’m expecting too much. If I can do it, can’t others?

We are such a blip in the universe and take ourselves so seriously. I guess living here on this beautiful island surrounded by nature makes me realize how insignificant one human being is in the grand scheme of things. It’s quite clear to me that we are not in charge. Every time we visit the beach, more sand has shifted, more shoreline altered. Every walk we take with Rupert on the Island Trail, another tree has fallen.

A customer recently was chatting with us, sitting on the loveseat by the fireplace in the bookstore after making his purchase. “There’s a piece of the Canary Islands that’s going to break off and send a tsunami this way. All these lovely books are going to get wet. What will you do when the waves hit?” he asked.

And it took me back to my time as a Human Resources Director when I had a saying typed out and taped to my computer monitor that helped me keep my sanity those days. I can’t remember where the words came from; I know I read them somewhere. They were words I imagined my father could have said to me, words that always calmed me, made me realize I could alter my expectations to meet the reality of any situation. It was the perfect opportunity to quote them.

I said, “If you can’t stop the waves, you can always learn to surf.”

Monday, January 3, 2011

This Winter Without Boots

I can still see the grin on the face of that tiny old Korean woman who left my garage sale with my winter parka tucked over her arm the day before we left Syracuse, New York for Chincoteague, Virginia. She had talked me into selling it to her for $3, and as I was so certain I’d never need it again, I was happy to do so! Ha! I should have realized her smile wasn’t a smile of gratitude but her way of saying, “Sucker!” or whatever the equivalent might be in Korean.

Winter did indeed hit this beautiful island paradise, making us wish we hadn’t sold our boots, too. We refused to go out and buy replacements, though. I just added extra pairs of socks and pulled my sneakers on, or let hubby walk Rupert on the mornings I couldn’t bear to go outside. The snow didn’t pile up – only about six inches compared to sixty – and the temperatures stayed in the thirties. Living on the water with no building on one side of us, however, means we feel each and every blast of the 40 mph winds that blew our way.

The big difference, though, is the sunshine. We see it almost every day. How nice it is not to deal with stretches of grey skies!

And our commute down those thirteen stairs from the apartment to the bookstore is so much nicer, too! Even though Rupert still insists on going outside a couple of times a day, we basically have been able to stay inside and rearrange the store. We are getting to know the locals and welcoming return customers, still enjoying each and every day…..even the wintry ones.