Long Beach Waves
Golden waves at sunset.

Another school year screeched to it’s end; albeit this one a little smoother than usual … so much so that I was actually listening when my husband said, “I sure would love to get away.”

“Let’s do it,” I answered. This was not a characteristic response.

I’m certainly adventurous, but with less spontaneity than Mike, so when I told him to grab his fishing pole and our sleeping bags only one day after classes let out, his brows lifted in surprised.

“We’re taking time.  It’ll be your Father s Day gift from me.  Hope that’s okay.”

No hesitation from him.  He had us in the car before I could remember any errant items on his (my) honey-do list. Sleeping bags, toothbrushes, and camera all tucked into the back of my Subaru, and we were on the road.

“By the way,” he suddenly asked, “Should I know where we are going?”

The fun of it was that he didn’t have a clue.  I could see that he was thoughtful as I merged onto the southbound lanes of I-5.

“Ocean Shores?” he finally asked as we neared Olympia.

“Nope,” but then took exit 104 (the beach exit).

“Hmmm …” he was wondering if he should believe me.

When we turned south at Montesano and headed towards Raymond, he was thoroughly confused so I gave in.  “Long Beach.  Just because we’ve never been there.”

Mike’s eyes water when he’s happy.  He loves exploring new places.  NO papers for me to correct, NOTHING MORE to do at the moment on the strangest, longest, and most stressful job hunt he’s ever experienced.  Just us. Just time.

A picnic stop in Raymond landed us next to the river and a broken sign that read “Saturday Market.” More than our “produce-only” farmers’ market back home, the little shop featured community-derived wares ranging from home-made candy and blown glass to jewelry and photos.

My own camera in hand, I glanced at a display of nature and landscape shots. “Nothing special,” I silently catalogued and started to moved past.

“Looking for anything in particular?” an elderly man stepped in between me and the aisle that would let me escape the photo displays.

“Just browsing.”

“Where you folks from …”

The conversation went the usual route of stranger-in-town versus old-timer.  About 10 sentences in, I learned that he was the creator of the “nothing special” photos.  I was a little irritated that I had to choose between being a rude city dweller or a seemingly interested customer, but really, what would it hurt to stand there and listen as he explained the stories behind the photos?

“Time.  You have the gift of time,” this whisper felt heaven-sent.  It certainly wasn’t from my selfish heart, but instead, from Someone more benevolent than me who loved this man.  “Just give him some of your time … after all, I gave it to you in the first place.”

So I listened and I looked again.  And, as anyone might guess, I had judged too soon. A stunning photo of Mount Baker, all decked-out with wild flowers, had been hidden on the back of the main display. I “ooh-ed” and “aaaahhed” multiple times, then asked a bunch of questions, allowing myself to learn from someone who had taken pictures a lot longer than I.

Seven or eight minutes was all the time need-spent to leave this kindly gentleman with a smile and light of validation in his eyes.Mike Ausmus Time Best Gift Ever

Time bought other small treasures the remainder of the weekend … a bike ride on the beach … making “donuts” in the sand with the Subaru … laughing at ourselves because we misheard each other numerous times like “old people” do … a sunset … a game of crazy eights on our cabin steps … a ghost town (Oysterville) … the Garlic Festival (I fear I still reek) …

We arrived back home mid-day on Father’s Day where we discovered still more time in our pockets.  After devouring an amazing steak dinner prepared by our daughters, we mused about what to do next.  The pull of my computer and household chores whispered temptation.  “A movie?” Our old standby for hanging out was suggested but seemed dull after all the live-people interactions of the weekend.

“How ‘bout a game of Skip-Bo?”  The girls groaned (and I think Mike did too … he loves movies), and I even surprised myself as a movie would have been a good way to sneak out my computer.  But eventually, we found ourselves around the table playing, laughing, watching Molly win the “dumb game,” listening to Sallie tease her and making another good memory. We even rallied together afterwards and tackled chores as one unified swarm of ants; so much accomplished in a fell-swoop.

Time … BEST gift EVER!Long Beach Kite Time Best Gift Ever