38: Recharge Rental

38: Recharge Rental

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Time to Thrive

Recharge Rental

The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever.

~Jacques Cousteau

I hit a wall. I am the girl who rarely says “no,” the one my friends say is the busiest person they know. A sometimes demanding career, chairing a local professional group, helping to found an international professional group, becoming a condominium association board member, participating in writing and Bible classes, caring for a parent’s affairs, providing stateside assistance to a deployed Army brother, and caring for two dogs had burned me out. I needed a vacation.

I scheduled a week off from work and searched for beach rentals. At first, the search was futile. Most properties were too expensive, some would not allow dogs, and some were too far away from the beach. At the last minute, I found a property for the right price, with a dog-friendly fenced yard, across the street from the beach. Was this property too good to be true?

I took off for the rental with my dogs in tow. Finding the condo was easy. Inspecting the premises, the first thing I noticed was the same throw rug in their kitchen as in my own. It felt like a good sign. I let the dogs loose to run and roll in the yard and continued my inspection. The condo was very clean, the bed and sofas were all comfortable, and there were plenty of pots, pans and dishes for a week of meals. Settling into this strange place felt like taking a deep breath.

We went on unleashed walks and runs on the beach. Schools of playful dolphins offshore kept pace with my walks. Sitting under the pier in the shade, I traded technical manuals for fiction for the first time in years. Fresh air and sunshine, surfers, cooperative birds and interesting flowers growing in the sand inspired creativity with my digital camera.

I now refer to this place as my recharge rental, and it has become the one calendar entry each year written in stone. Each trip yields a new adventure. One year, I took a boat tour around Cumberland Island, where John F. Kennedy, Jr. was married, and saw wild horses. That trip was especially eventful because such a bad storm hit us on the way back that you could see nothing but torrential rain and wind from the boat windows. Comforting the terrified woman sitting next to me, I learned she too was visiting from Atlanta. When the storm finally subsided, we saw the actual lifeboat from which Navy SEALs rescued Captain Phillips, bullet holes and all.

Every visit, I meet nice people. A man on the beach told me how to recognize shark teeth in the sand. I never found any teeth, but I collected lots of beach glass and unusual shells. Another year, during a beach walk, a woman stopped me because she thought she knew me. It turned out we have a friend in common in Atlanta. One year, I met a local author. Last year, I met the owners of the condo upstairs, joining them for wine and pizza. That’s how I found out about and witnessed a turtle hatching where they count the hatched eggs of endangered sea turtles.

Enjoying an annual visit to the beach has allowed me to step out of life’s hamster wheel and replenish my energy. An added benefit is that it is the perfect halfway point for my mother’s trip home. When my mom visits Atlanta from South Florida, I meet her halfway and drive her in, or travel with her halfway back. This year was the first time she joined me at the condo on her way home. The night before she left, we ate dinner at a wonderful beachside restaurant with live music. The evening was one of the best that either of us could remember. It was the perfect end for her visit to Atlanta, and the perfect beginning of my annual retreat.

~Bonnie L. Beuth

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