From Sea To Shining River


What a difference a day makes.

I had been “in country” for 5 days and the Sunshine State had yet to live up to its name.    The weather ran the gamut from cloudy to drizzly to pouring down cats and dogs.  There was no time left to hope Mother Nature would come through for me – it was Saturday morning and I would be wheels-up in four, short hours.  I grabbed my dad’s car keys, left my parents sleeping and headed for the Atlantic Ocean, 10 minutes away.

The resentment I felt towards the fickle sunshine gods melted away as soon as my bare feet hit the sand.  So what if I had to wear a sweatshirt with my shorts?  At least I was wearing shorts, a fashion decision that would have resulted in frostbite from the thighs down in my home state of Illinois.  The temperature was only in the 60s, the salt water soaked my shorts and the sand scrubbed the fake tan right off my legs.  I was as happy as a clam.

A hot cup of good coffee warmed me from the inside out as I walked in the surf.  When empty, that same cup became a carrying case for the shells and pieces of coral I plucked from the surging tide.  I gazed out at the limitless horizon and for one, brief moment; the sun peaked through the clouds.  It shone down on me like a benediction.  I only had an hour on the beach before I had to head back to pack, but it was enough to put a shining cap on my trip.

Fast-forward 24 hours.

Even though I looked like a Nordic mummy in the scarf I had wrapped around my face and neck, the bitter wind found its way through the folds of cloth to slap my cheeks red.  The harsh sound of my own breathing reverberated through the echo chamber that was the deep hood of my ski jacket.

Our dog, Ace, didn’t notice the cold as he raced ahead, occasionally coming back to crash into me, full-tilt in his utter, muddy joy to be running free.

I trudged down the dirt road from our house the ¼ of a mile it took to reach a favorite and well-known destination, the banks of the Illinois River.  I stifled my own, loud breathing, as I looked over the water and for a moment the entire world was enveloped in silence.  I was reminded of a favorite quote that hangs in my mother-in-law’s home:

“Be still, and know that I am God.”

I’d gone from the banks of the Atlantic Ocean to the banks of the Illinois River in one, short day.  It was a bit of a shock to the system, but the joy of walking and the beauty of the water soothed and exhilarated me in both places.

That’s not to say I wouldn’t rather have the 70 degrees, however.

She picks seashells by the seashore.


About pegoleg

R-A-M-B-L-I-N-G-S, Ram...Blin!
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51 Responses to From Sea To Shining River

  1. Lovely shells. You found some beautiful colors in there.
    I think you got your batteries recharged, a tune up and your engine is humming quietly. Good sign when the timing belt is running smoothly.


  2. Around here, the weather seems to change all by itself from warm to cold (not to the extremes you described, though). But, I supposed you can travel if the weather isn’t zany enough for you…


  3. Spectra says:

    Are those shells really the ones you found on the beach? But they look like candy. My sister also just got back from 10 days in Florida – she said it was blah rainy cool weather, but that it hadn’t rained since October or so, and was badly needed. Your description of everything is so clear and artful – as georgette said, above, you definitely sound recharged and refreshed, to me.


    • pegoleg says:

      Thanks! I was told they had a drought for the last 4 months, so I tried not to be TOO resentful that the rains came when I was there.

      Yes, those are all the shells I found – one coffee cup full. One of them is I think what they call sea glass – a piece of an old bottle with the edges rounded off by the surf. I put them in a silver candy dish for display. Eye candy, right?


  4. Ahhh…water does that for me too. Brings peace every time. Good thing the shock of the weather was dulled a bit for you. My in-laws just moved back from Orlando and they are still in shock from the balmy 1 degree we hit the other day. I can’t blame them, it’s brutal even for me and I’m used to it. Loved your photos, by the way.


  5. bigsheepcommunications says:

    Sipping hot coffee while you stroll the beach sounds divine.


  6. gojulesgo says:

    Welcome home! I love that you can take a short walk to the riverbank; that must be wonderful (if cold)! I hope you had a good trip, despite all the rain!


    • pegoleg says:

      The main point was to be wined and dined by my brother, then spend some time with my parents, so mission accomplished. Now I’m trying to dig out from all the stuff on my desk. Why does REAL work always have to intrude on vaca and blogging time????


  7. Al says:

    Salt or fresh, water is the great pacifier. I enjoyed reading this, Peg


  8. Margie says:

    There is a reason so many Canadian Snow Birds head south for the winter, and it isn’t to see the friendly locals who are so happy to see them descend!


    • pegoleg says:

      My parent’s condo community has a huge population from Finland. Finland! Talk about snow birds! I fit right in with the small groups I bumped into everywhere in the complex with their blonde hair and blue eyes. Except I couldn’t contribute much to the conversation about smoked herring, especially in Finnish.


  9. joehoover says:

    Great to be able to experience such different climates in a day, that’s when I thank cheap flights and Europe a short flight away. I’ll be doing just that in April, from our rain I will hop to Spain and be on the beach in a couple of hours, the outbound was the cheapest at £17.99, about $28 if my maths serves me right.

    So nice to be near the water, has such a calming effect.

    The shells remind me of the ones I collected in Australia to give to my niece but customs wouldn’t let me take them – they have plenty I don’t see the problem 🙂


  10. This is our first winter away from the cold and not a day goes by that I don’t appreciate the warmth. I’m glad you had some time to enjoy the sea.


    • pegoleg says:

      If it ever gets around to snowing here, I’m going to remind myself to appreciate that weather as well, with hearty, winter sports like cross-country skiing. Somebody remind me of that resolution, ok?


  11. Paula's Paradise says:

    Your seashell souvenirs of a blissful, albeit blustery, time at the beach are quite beautiful — like your posts! (I am just 68 miles off the east coast of Florida, so I know exactly what you’re talking about; it was not Chamber of Commerce brochure weather!). I love that it looks like you wrote a little something inside one of the shells to remember the moment in the sands of time. Also, I am told that sea glass can also be remnants of the old glass buoys that fishermen of yesteryear used to keep their nets afloat (the gulf stream currents can carry bits from as far away as Europe).

    I seem to remember a quote about never being able to step into the same river twice … here’s to you for enjoying it all!


    • pegoleg says:

      Hey, Paula! I thought you were farther away than that. Thanks for the info on the sea glass – I didn’t know that. It didn’t really look thick enough to be a Coke bottle, but I’ll never know.

      I did write in the shell – you have keen eyes. Here’s why. I used to buy and sell antiques and collectibles, so I went to auctions every weekend, usually estates of someone who had passed away. One auction, a couple of years ago, was for the estate of an old, maiden-lady schoolteacher. I was the only bidder on a basket of rocks and seashells, so I got it for $2.50. The lady had written the date and place on most of the pieces -souvenirs of her travels. ” 2/63, Spain”, “7/56 Cape Cod”, etc. I still have her basket of memories sitting in my living room, and I like to think she would be happy to be remembered, even by a stranger.

      Since then, I’ve tried to follow the same tradition myself, although I don’t travel too much.


      • Paula's Paradise says:

        What a great story about the vintage seashells … so glad you’re carrying on that thoughtful tradition. I was at an island wedding recently where a big pink and white conch (pronounced “konk”) shell had been personalized with the bride and groom’s name and date — quite beautiful — and it also doubled as a “horn” giving off a long low tone that signaled the start of the ceremony. Who knew seashells were so versatile?! And that Sharpie markers had so many uses?! Here’s to all kinds of ongoing shell-a-brations!


  12. Running from Hell with El says:

    Ah, amazing contrast between places. You made me want to be walking or running along both the Atlantic Ocean and the Illinois River. My favorite sentence was: “The harsh sound of my own breathing reverberated through the echo chamber that was the deep hood of my ski jacket.” Great writing!


  13. Tar-Buns says:

    Lovely, Peg. Glad you at least got your walk on the beach before leaving FL. Wasn’t the weather better in Charleston, the first leg of your trip?
    By the way, was the zoom teeth job worth it? Smooches, T


    • pegoleg says:

      I was glad to get some time in at the beach, Tar. The Zoom didn’t make a huge difference, actually, but it did help so I’m happy. I’ve gone back to my 2-pot-per-day coffee habit after a rocky 2-days without, so the ‘ol choppers will be dingy again in no time.


  14. The ocean is a soothing salve, and sometimes a chilly, cloudy day is the best time to see it, depending on what you need. I’m glad you had that hour.


  15. 70 degrees sounds so good right now…
    SOOOO good!
    *my fingers are nearly too numb to type just thinking about what it probably feels like outside right now…*


  16. Angie Z. says:

    Ah, I just want to suck in that ocean air that I can see in your first photo. Just for a moment before I sink back into my Midwestern winter decay. Is it spring yet?


  17. pattisj says:

    Pretty shells. I’m glad you had the opportunity to visit your family. We were told FL has a week of winter weather, and wouldn’t ya know, that was the week we were there! (a couple years ago)


  18. egills says:

    I want to see the sea 😦


  19. Lenore Diane says:

    This: “Our dog, Ace, didn’t notice the cold as he raced ahead, occasionally coming back to crash into me, full-tilt in his utter, muddy joy to be running free.” I can easily visualize that – as my dogs do the same thing.

    This was nice, Peg. I am glad you were still. I love being still.


  20. Barb says:

    We once went to Florida during February. I had taken nothing but shorts because darn it…that’s what Florida was supposed to be…a reprieve from the constant rain of Oregon. It was cold, cloudy and rained most of the time. I froze. Every time I pull out the sweatshirt I bought while there, I think of that vacation. Way to go, gal…you find the beauty (or comedy) in everything. Welcome home.


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