Monday, April 12, 2010
East of the Sun
My paternal grandparents were early snowbirds, and had settled on Anna Maria Island on the Gulf of Mexico, from which they ran a charter fishing boat business on their cabin cruiser, the “Mobjack”. They lived in a trailer park right across the street from the beach, with the most interesting cast of characters you could imagine: ex-Circus performers, a revival preacher, and my favorite, Mrs. P. Mrs. P. was a first generation Greek-American. A warm lovely lady with a thick accent, she made sweets for us, and delicate crocheted doilies.
Each morning she took her big black inner tube, and would bob in the waters of the Gulf for a few hours. One morning she paddled out, and sadly never come back.
Exploring the seashore and sandbars, we kids searched for the shells of horseshoe crabs and sand dollars. In the mornings, we cheered as the elders deftly played shuffle board; or in the evening, peeking through the clubhouse windows we watched as they played bingo. Some nights, my Grandpa would take us on a torchlight crabbing expedition. Other times, Grandma taught us how to dig for coquina (small clams). And then she would whip up large batches of her Florida version of clam chowder.
But most of all, we loved our time onboard the “Mobjack”. When they weren’t busy with paying customers, Grandma and Grandpa would take us out for the day. Grandma would maneuver the boat, while Grandpa fixed our lines, and brought in our catch – mackerel, kingfish, and grouper. The sight of schools of dolphins as they raced the boat, or of giant sleeping turtles lazing in the deep bay, captivated us. Back at the dock, my grandfather took pride in demonstrating to us his fish-cleaning skills – YUCK!
Sometimes the fog would set in. Then Grandpa would crouch on the bow of the boat, and yell directions to Grandma as she guided us safely back to our home berth on the Island.
Both my grandparents are gone now, but I smile thinking of them climbing aboard the “Mobjack” and navigating out into the deep purple waters of the Gulf.
West of the Moon,