I went down to GA Sunday a week ago, and after I'd washed a little over half of the trunkful of laundry that I hauled down with me, Mums and I drove to Dublin to visit Grandmommy. Physically, she is in great shape, but it's an emotionally rough time of year for her because of the second anniversary of Granddaddy's death September 10. Mums and I reflected that it seems simultaneously ages since the sad summer of 2010, and like it all happened just months ago. Despite my coming down with a migraine (the first in a very long time) the three of us women played two games of Scrabble, and Mums won both times, with Grandmommy and I switching off for second and third spots. Mums is a brain.
After breakfast the next morning, we decided that we'd head for Fernandina Beach again this year (we stopped in St. Simon's Island for lunch), and we stayed at the same hotel, and, towards the end of our visit (which we extended by a couple of days), in the very same room! This year, instead of the rest of the rooms being rented by a dieter's convention, there was an old soldier's reunion--a field artillery unit from Vietnam.
We walked for an hour on the beach the first night there, racing a quartet of kite-surfers down to the southen pier--watching them fly over some waves and ride other breakers into shore...it looked like so much fun! And plenty of exercise for the arms--I could see their shoulder muscles straining under their wet tshirts.
We walked on the beach again the next morning, north this time, and then went into town to antique, and I bought a lovely vintage dress and a couple of new hand-embellished hairbands, while Mums searched for odd garden ornaments to sneak into the overgrown foliage around the house of her erstwhile fiance (she wanted to see how long it would take him to notice it). But by mid-morning, I'd evidenced a severe strain at the back of my left knee--possibly from the beachwalking, that I ended up having to sit down at almost every store we entered, and looked like a Crimean War veteran the way I hobbled around. We started to have lunch outside, but a tropical deluge ensued, and we grabbed our iced tea and hustled indoors to drier seating. Of course, the rain stopped and the sun came back out just a few minutes after we retreated from the courtyard, but the food was delicious anyway. At the urging of a local artist, we went on a sunset cruise around the bay, and got to glimpse, from afar, the wild horses on Cumberland Island, and the nuclear submarine base at Kings Bay (the captain recommended we offer a "one finger salute" to the overhead Chinese and Russian spy satellites), and the old brick fort on Amelia Island (where apparently the in-character male volunteers follow around shorts-wearing female tourists, muttering, "Hussy, wouldn't even hire her as a washer-woman!"). It was lovely, and a whole new perspective on the area, with lots of dolphin-sightings.
Friday we explored some more and antiqued some more, as my leg was back to normal, and then had a posh dinner on the porch at a restaurant we enjoyed last year. I had a pear cider, which was delicious. I was back at the hotel, watching an episode of the Korean serial "Playful Kiss" (the plot would ver much have appealed to an 18-year-old me--I am glad I am long disabused of the notion of putting up with crap from emotionally-abusive guys in the hope that they will finally be won over by my sweetness and fall in love with me) when my girlfriend who just moved to Seoul pinged me on Skype. We ended up talking for half an hour, half-way around the world from one another--she gave me a virtual tour of her apartment by carrying her laptop around so I could see everything. It was so cool! And I tried out some of my baby Korean vocabulary on her. She said the alphabet is pretty easy to learn--like Russian, you'll quickly learn to pronounce most words, even if you have no clue what they actually mean! I know all this is online, but I'll go to the library to see if there's a print version I can borrow to teach myself.
Saturday we went kayaking in the intracoastal waterway south of Amelia. Perfect weather, fish doing stone-skipping jumps--apparently a single leap into the air was insufficient to express their piscine joie de vivre, and they bounced along the surface twice or thrice before disappearing back into the water. A treeful of great egrets, march grasses thick over razor-edges of thousands of oysters (unfortunately contaminated by runoff from the seven golf courses on the nearby island), tiny crabs darting sideways along the mud, a clear blue sky, cool breeze from the ocean, and no bugs! We rowed to the ocean (1.5 hours) and pulled up our boats on an inviting sandbar, walking around protected dunes to see the sea, and an enormous mixed flock of seabirds on the seaward side. After just a little while (it was low tide, and I didn't want to disturb the birds, so I didn't get into the water), Mums and I returned to our kayaks and started the paddle back. These kayaks had a much larger hole in the tops than the ones she and I used back home (possibly so even larger-sized renters "wouldn't feel trapped"), and they had little adjustable blocks down on either side of the elongated cockpit to rest ones toes. So I ended up sitting in a sort of squat the whole trip, the bottom inside of my calves exposed to the gently shining sun. Which, as I found out that night, was quietly, sweetly giving me the worst sunburn of my life.
I'd slathered high-octane sunscreen all over my face, arms and upper body, and I'd worn a t-shirt and capri pants, but I didn't even think about my legs getting much sun exposure. But by Saturday evening, I observed a 3x8" scarlet welt on each lower leg, horribly painful and growing more so by the hour. Pain killer got me through the night, and as we dressed for church (we went to a tiny PCA congregation that meets in a middle-school gym) I was so grateful that I'd brought a long, soft, ankle-length dress for the occasion. I slept more than half of the way home, popping ibuprofen like candy and applying lidocaine-laced aloe to the burns. Neither seemed to help much--my ankles had swollen, too, so it was excruciating to walk.
I spent the next two days in bed. My ankle bones reappeared on the third day, and I drove back to DC--the welt on my left leg blistered on the nine-hour trip up. The blisters went away yesterday. Today, the first layer of skin peeled off both legs, and they again look like raw hamburger, and ache, but they are slowly getting better. I now know that when the sticker on my medication bottle says "avoid prolonged sunlight" they are not fooling around.