By Regena Handy
We’ve just returned from Myrtle Beach. Only gone a few days, just enough to enjoy it all without becoming overwhelmed. The weather was hot, traffic was heavy, restaurants were crowded. I loved it.
Lots of folks I know make at least an annual trek to the beach. Some own second homes there and go much more frequently. We go just often enough that it’s always a treat.
My parents were not beach people. If we took a vacation during my childhood years, it was more likely to Gatlinburg, Tenn., or West Virginia or the mountains of North Carolina. Fun in the water—and it was fun—was defined by the size of swimming holes in nearby creeks or the Smith River. I was 17 years old before I saw the ocean.
I have favorite beach memories, of course. Our honeymoon, two optimistic young people not yet jaded by life’s hard knocks, beginning our lives together who, to quote Robert Redford when speaking of his granddaughter in the movie “An Unfinished Life”—were young enough that we “still believed everything in life would turn out okay.”
Then the trip years later in 2012, the only beach excursion our entire family ever made after a daughter-in-law and later a grandbaby came into our lives. Precious days spent together in blessed ignorance of our older son’s illness that would take him a year and a half later. Truly, a priceless moment in time.
All of us, I believe, imagine from time to time moving to a new location, creating a different life. Just a part of human nature to want further experiences.
Whenever we are at the beach I sometimes envision a long term stay, dream about walking on the beach every morning, sipping my cup of coffee and breathing the salty air. Time spent there is pleasurable and I’m always reluctant to leave.
Yet, it happens every time. Perhaps it’s the Scotch-Irish blood that I understand runs through my veins, a part of my heritage that lures me. For as we begin the drive towards home, I automatically start scanning the horizons. Like my long ago ancestors whom I’ve read came to this area because it reminded them of home, I am searching for the mountains.
And finally they come into view—beloved Blue Ridge Mountains. I am reminded of my mother-in-law’s reaction upon returning home from the beach and crossing the Virginia state line. My husband said she would draw in a breath and say “Ah, smell that good old Virginia air.”
The quote that probably characterizes best how I feel comes from one of my favorite authors, Lee Smith, who grew up in Grundy. She said that after her mother died, she tried to get her father to retire and leave Grundy. This was his answer—and I paraphrase—”I need me a mountain to rest my eyes against.”
As do I.