On the final vacation that my sister and I took together a few years ago, she revealed a secret to my own identity that she had discovered. We were sitting outside having lunch beside a row of funky Airstream-turned-food trucks and I was feeling a bit disappointed that she didn’t seem to be as completely enamored with our beach location as I was. I had introduced her to Seagrove Beach and Seaside, Florida a few days before and she knew that I was in a continual state of bliss when I was there. Mary Craig always knew what I was thinking or feeling, so I didn’t have to put words to it. She looked at me and said, “You love to travel to places that feel like they could be home, and this feels like a quaint little town that you could live in.” She was, of course, exactly right.
Whenever I travel, I can’t help but imagine what its like to live there and be among the people doing their normal, daily lives there. I am drawn to quiet, uncrowded locations where the residents are able to walk or bike to almost anywhere they need to go on a day-to-day schedule. Seagrove Beach is just that location.
Sometimes when I travel, a day or so before we leave home, I start to feel a little anxiety about being away. I love to be at home. I love to be in my backyard reading a book and listening to my wind chimes or watching our chickens rhythmically peck and scratch the earth. I love to watch the yellow finches and cardinals out my kitchen window while I sip coffee, typically from a mug of somewhere far away that I also love. My Seaside mug is a staple in the weekly rotation. I love home. And there is not much else that I love doing more than making our home a home. I guess I never really stopped nesting…it’s part of who I am. BUT I really do love to travel as well. I love to be in nature and in new places and experience the sensory stimulation of beautiful new places…new smells…new sights and sounds.
Seagrove has truly become the home away from home for me and for our family of 6. Our typical pilgrimage is in the early fall for our kids week of fall break. It’s the best time of year to go without the overcrowding of summer hustle and heat and with just the right amount of humanity there so that you feel as though you just walked into a small town of people that have lived in the same homes for 50 years and know your name. This past fall, we were unable to make our trip. My husband and I were supposed to be in Seattle for a family wedding, but as God’s timing would have it, my sister, who I had sat with on those quaint streets only 3 years before, had succumbed to breast cancer only days before our fall break and we spent that time in Atlanta with family for her Celebration of Life.
My desire to get back to our beach sanctuary was a deep and driving force during the darkest autumn of my life. I yearned for that slow and simple, quiet place to find healing. As only God could have ordained, we were able to spend the week after Christmas there this year. We rung in the New Year in downtown Seaside and at our little rental home with only our family of 6. It was just the week my heart and our family needed. I had long conversations with God in agreement that 2017 would be the year of healing and moving forward and following hard after Him. I drank bottomless cups of coffee on a shaded back porch overlooking trees and neighbors walking their dogs. I read frivolous fiction novels on the front porch swing as it rained. My husband and I hiked the trails of the nature preserve connected to our neighborhood and I rode bikes with my daughters. And I felt God mending my heart.
Seagrove, and neighboring Seaside, are biking distance to each other and to everything you could need for a week, or a month, at the beach. Other than spending lots of hours sunbathing and watching dolphin from the beach, my favorite spot to visit is a little bookstore called Sundog books. It is located in the semi-circle that is downtown Seaside and has shelves overflowing with all the books you would ever have time to read. It just happens to be next door to my favorite restaurant as well, The Great Southern, with the worlds absolute best Shrimp-A-Ya-Ya (grilled shrimp with gouda grits.) When I am wandering Sundog’s aisles and catching a whiff of old bay and Mimosas, I am content with the world. I am at home, away from home, in our other little corner of the world.
*I wrote this post as a submission to theartofsimple.net to celebrate the release of Tsh Oxenreider’s new book, At Home in the World. It is such a wonderful read for those of us that both love to travel and love to be at home-go get it today! http://theartofsimple.net/athome/
My front porch view of the sweet street that our rental faced.
The first sunrise of 2017 spent sipping coffee and dreaming about the new year with my love.
One gorgeous day on the beach after Christmas.
Sundog Books at night.
My four favorite little humans relaxing in downtown Seaside.