Sunday, June 8, 2014

At the Beach with Gladys

I'd been promising Julia a day at the beach for weeks. Sometimes you must take a day by the collar and go do it, so we did. We threw the beach things in the car, lugged along a cooler of ice and water, squirmed into our bathing suits, and took the 10:00 ferry to Havalock. I dashed back inside for a book to read. I knew if boredom occurred at the beach I'd be tempted to come home, and neither of us wanted that. So Gladys Taber came along to the beach with us yesterday.

I love reading Gladys; she has such a conversational tone. She makes me giggle unexpectedly when she describes the antics of her cockers and her Irish setter. She's a farm wife at heart. I read a few pages at a time slowly, savoring them as Julia did battle with waves. I marveled at how her slender body dove deep into the base of a mighty wall of water, as if she'd tricked it and eluded its fury. Then my eyes would drift back to Gladys and her garden, her descriptions of summer, her neighbors, her Siamese cat.

Her life seems so packed with flavor to me, as if every minute of every day were a treat, and I know it's only because she's a writer. I'm sad that Gladys is dead now, because her voice still resonates, so very alive. She described to me a meal she ate, the corn boiled in milk at dusk while she converses with her friend Jill. They debate the seven wonders of the world while waiting impatiently for the charcoal to heat. Gladys sucked the sweet juices from life, from beauty, from nature, from friendship. What is the point though? She's dead. So is Jill. So are the cockers and Irish.

I sometimes ponder about the food eaten by people soon to die. Isn't it rather a waste to put steak and potatoes and asparagus into a belly that won't digest it? The last meal of a death-row inmate, the chilly milkshake half-enjoyed before a fatal car wreck. The final unwanted nursing home meal of a dementia patient. What a sad use for something as noble as food! Why do we eat? Why do we live? Why do we keep plugging away at gardening and dog-tending and writing, as Gladys did, when death is the voice telling us all, "Hurry and finish up. Turn out the light. It's time!"
a good shelling day at the beach.
Tonight I read Gladys again and she is on a trip to the sea on Cape Cod. The ocean affects her as it does me, calming the ruffled feathers of the heart. The waves were large yesterday and the afternoon sun shone on the striations that pull on each wave as it rears up, stretching, shining, each crest attaining its utmost height before the crash. So are we. Stretch, Gladys -- stretch and reach and make beautiful words. And crash down as the others.

 (Perhaps I select one seashell out of a million on that one beach, examining its beauty, because I long for myself, one small human, to be chosen and recognized as significant by God.)
two lettered olive shells
Death casts a pall on our significance. I think, however, that in this life we are merely practicing, that death is not the end but the beginning. I'm pleased to meet a person (even through the impersonal handshake of her book) who chose so well the right things to practice. She didn't waste time with things she knew she wouldn't be doing in eternity. Gardening, dogs, friendship, food, flower arranging, beach-gazing, writing it all. I'm sure there are others because I'm only halfway through this first book. Those who love the Earth seem to understand that God has promised to remake it for us, for eternity. What a pleasant thought that we are only beginning on this planet! I do so want to devote my time to things I will keep doing on that New Earth. Gladys is a good guide in that regard.


  1. I like Gladys's writing because she is, most of the time, filled with good cheer. I like her buoyancy and her love for people. She rejoiced in the interesting features of humans. The last book recounts her death (her daughter's writing) and she really did live life to the full. We could talk about her work for days and days, you and I. I am so thankful that Susan Branch introduced so many people to her. Did you know that Susan is going to Stillmeadow very soon?

  2. Your day at the beach sounds scrumptious!

  3. She sounds a great author. How lovely you gave shells like that on your beaches!!! X

  4. I too am a Gladys Taber reader. There's so much love in her books for the ordinary, making it so very special!

  5. This was beautiful. I enjoy her writings too and need to read more from her.

    I loved what you wrote here, as it is very encouraging.

    ** God has promised to remake it for us, for eternity. What a pleasant thought that we are only beginning on this planet! I do so want to devote my time to things I will keep doing on that New Earth. Gladys is a good guide in that regard. **

    Have a great week ~ FlowerLady

  6. I love my Tabor books and think Gladys has taught me how to enjoy life and to pull out the best bits of what really is rather ordinary. So glad you are enjoying her. And I so agree about the New Earth. Learning about it and what God has in store has totally changed me and my thinking in many ways. It is all sooo exciting, which at one time I certainly did not think to be true.


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