Praise the Lord from the earth, you great sea creatures and all ocean depths, 8 lightning and hail, snow and clouds, stormy winds that do his bidding. Psalm 148:7-8 (NIV)
Day Four and we are on West Ship Island staying with oldest son, the park ranger. He brought us out here on his twenty three foot Park Service boat loaded with our bags and groceries. We were surprised to find he lives in a very nice one bedroom duplex with a full kitchen, bath, living room and queen sized bed. While his job can be stressful, particularly on the weekends when there are several thousand people on the island each day, some of them drunk, suffering from sunstroke or dehydration or going over their head in water that is surprisingly deep, when the last ferry leaves at 5:00, he is living in paradise. Tonight, we are the only three people on a seven mile long narrow island of about two square miles. The pavilions, pier, beach and boardwalks are blissfully empty. No shrill voices, no boat engines, no summer camp counselors ordering children to walk single file. A peaceful calm settles over the island. That doesn’t mean that there isn’t anything to do or see though. Blackbirds practice acrobatics landing on the thin stems of sea oats bending them to the ground. Dolphins splash water just off shore and spewed misty breath from their blowhole. Seagulls fight over the remnants of picnic lunches. Rays skim the sand just below the water’s surface. Hermit crabs scuttle across the beach. The flag flaps over Fort Massachusetts, a brick horseshoe shaped fort built before the Civil War. A storm came through from the north late this afternoon. I spent more than an hour watching its approach as a sheet of rain blocked the view of Gulfport and lightning connected sky to water. Finally the wind drove me inside off the porch, but I enjoyed the beat of rain against the roof and the view of whitecaps washing ashore. When the storm cleared, husband and oldest son went down to the pier to go fishing. I can’t remember the last time husband had a fishing pole in his hands. It was good to see him having fun for a change. Despite the wind and waves, they caught something every time they put their bait in the water. Catfish, ladyfish, one red fish too small to keep and two sharks kept them busy until supper was ready. While they fished, I walked on the beach, retrieving lost items left behind when people fled the storm and rushed the ferry. Inflatable swim rings, soda cans, bags of potato chips. I dragged up what I could and left the rest for the next tide’s cleansing. When the sun went down, the island is dark and still. The stars are still obscured by clouds so only light is from shrimp boats in the bayou. As much as I would like to walk back down to the beach, the mosquitos are thick and hungry. So, I will go to sleep and dream of another day on a deserted island. At least until the ferry arrives at ten!