A Week In Pink

A long awaited and deserved vacation finally came for this tired but wired writer last week, and part of the joy was not having to drive too far to find a restful paradise. Topsail Island became the hands down choice this year. My daughter, who’s expecting her first child (a girl she’s already named Sydney Grace), and her husband drove from Texas over a two-day period, which must have been grueling, based upon my travel experiences. I find it hard to sit still that long. I guess my daughter did too. Her small, but swollen, pink feet were happy to be walking around again once they hit sand. The swelling went down quickly. My husband and I rented a cozy, waterfront condo (that happened to be painted a soft pink) called Ocean Potion at Topsail Beach, NC. Renting with Ward Realty was an accommodating, pleasant and relaxed experience. It was surprising to find the condo so immaculate after a busy July 4th week. Ocean Potion’s decor was simply delightful and oh so beachy; lighthouses, fish, sailboats, shells. Of course, my husband and I had dibs on the penthouse bedroom on the top floor with the lounging deck embraced by pink exterior walls. After our Texans settled in on their choice of bedroom, the empty bedroom drew a request for occupation from relatives in my son-in-law’s family reunion house a short distance down the road, so his sister, her husband and their pink-cheeked, 4-year-old moved in. The vacation days were filled with beach walks, sand moats & castles, a baby shower with pink bows and pink clothes, riding the waves, smearing sunblock on pink shoulders, shopping, board and card games, abundant laughter, a few tears that turned noses pink, picking up a few pink-tinged shells on the beach, dodging the occasional lightning storm, and dancing with a precious but needy Golden Retriever whose pink tongue licked my face in delight more than necessary.

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And so much good food! Chicken and broccoli braid, blackened chicken sliders, fresh fruit salad, grilled mahi mahi, pink shrimp boil. Everyone shared their special dish. Of course, I don’t go anywhere without books; books to read and books to place. My choice to read was “By Way of Water” by Charlotte Gullick. I guess you’d say it’s a reread as this is the fourth time I’ve turned those pages front to back. It’s a novel “about the legacies of love, faith and violence and the private rules we set for ourselves when the world seems irreconcilably misaligned.” Charlotte said it best. I read it over and over again because I love the rhythm in Gullick’s writing. Like listening to my favorite song, I never tire of it. I’m also drawn to 7-year-old Justy’s strength and her penny. “By Way of Water” was published in 2002 without media hype, but somehow I found it, and it’s a gem I cherish. I’ll probably read it again. I also took copies of my own novel, “Save Them All,” to place on the island so visitors to our area will have the opportunity to enjoy a North Carolina story filled with authenticity, purpose, love for our natural resources and to feel the passion and romance that gradually awaken on our down east coast and go wild! “Save Them All” was warmly received by the proprietor of the Topsail Gift Basket who placed my books and a poster on display in her shop. Stop by the Gift Basket at 702 South Anderson Blvd, Topsail Beach, NC for your souvenir or special occasion shopping and pick up a copy. Or you may want to call first (910-328-7111 or 800-424-7245) to make sure they have some copies left or to find out when they’ll be getting more. The much anticipated beach week at Topsail is gone, but I must say the Island was in pink condition and definitely had me feeling “in the pink” more than once.

Linda Bergman-Althouse

author of “Save Them All

coming soon(er or later), “The Purple Fence”

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Marine Homecoming

Happy 4th of July people!! Since I generally write about the wild side of life, it seems only fitting to acknowledge a Marine Corps homecoming; they who live their lives more wild than most. This week over 800 Marines and Sailors returned home to Camp Lejeune, North Carolina from Africa and the middle east.   Although deployments and homecomings are quite common here, they are never treated routinely. It’s a glorious sight to see, feel and hear. You never know how awaiting loved ones are going to respond when they lay eyes on their Marine after so many months of separation. Emotions are raw, uninhibited and intense. Corpsman and ambulances always stand by. A company of Patriot Guard Riders thundered in on motorcycles from everywhere across the nation to “show respect for those who risk their very lives for America’s freedom and security” and to show their support for the families tormented every moment they marked time until this very day of homecoming. Before the swarm of helicopters appears overhead, the names of all the wives, fiances and girlfriends (a few husbands, too) are put in a bucket and one lucky name is drawn for the first kiss. After all helicopters have hovered, landed and parked in a linear formation (which is an aerial display unequalled), the unit falls in formation and marches toward the cheering crowd held back by appropriateness, experience and flimsy bright yellow tape.

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The first kiss winner is escorted beyond the tape to find her or his Marine. The union is met with an explosion of cheers from the eagerly wanting crowd. The tape is then dropped and it is sheer, joyous bedlam.

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Marines don’t get into the politics of war (vocally). I’m sure they have their personal views. Our all volunteer military signs on to serve this country and much like marriage vows, the oath they take is for better or worse. As a Marine retiree, I look at all of them much similarly to my children (they were, once). I’m happy to see these Marines home safe, but the lump in my throat is felt for those servicemen and women serving in all parts of the world who didn’t or won’t make it back and those whose physical or mental abilities are forever changed by injury. But on that day I swallowed the cockleburs and spent my energy celebrating the courageous men and women before me. There will be many books written about this war, but I probably won’t read any. I know enough. Semper Fi!

View Marine Homecoming Video http://www.jdnews.com/video/_49459___video.html/_.html

Happy Independence Day, America!   Land of the free because of the brave!
Linda Bergman-Althouse

author of “Save Them All”