Behind the Fiction Past
By Vickie Adkins


Vacation, the perfect time to read!

Every year my first cousins and their families and me and my gang meet in some sunny location for a family vacation. A tradition started several years ago, -this is definitely the life! Mornings begin around 9:30 with a walk on the beach, noisy gulls soaring overhead demanding and expecting their morning meal. Waves applaud and dance, teasing us, and then begging us to come and play.

"Maybe later," you hear. "I think I'll read a while first." And the intentions are grand. Scanning the sand burdened strips of terry cloth, I notice JRR Toiken, Patricia Cornwell, a book about investing (being read by someone young enough to be my child, no doubt), and a tattered spy novel, obviously someone's favorite, all scattered about, pages flapping in the breeze.

I sit finally, after wrestling with the corners of my yellowed, daisy towel. No matter how hard I try, I can't keep the sand away. And when I add oil into the picture, the two immediately become one, and my best friend for the remainder of the day. I pull out my book of the week, struggling to keep it clean. Smiling, I nestle into the blazing sand. This is so good, I think, scanning the crowd. Thirty or so cousins, embedded in the beach. There are the dedicated readers, those who are spellbound the minute they pick up a book; and there are the 'wanna be readers. They haven't had time to finish the contemporary work of fiction they started three weeks ago. "Ah, vacation," one declares. "The perfect time to relax and read."

"So, what's been happening with you guys?" One cousin asks. "Not much, really," the other answers politely. "You?" "Oh, 'bout the same, just working, and gardening a little. I planted the most beautiful roses this year." "Really? What color? I love roses!" "Well, I planted this beautiful pink one, and of course the usual red. They're lovely!"

"Remember the yellow rose bush out by the lane at Gran and Gramp's house?" The dedicated reader has chimed in by now. "I do, oh my goodness. Wasn't it beautiful?" "Yes, and that rose bush brings back sooooo many memories."

"Remember when you and your brother rode your bicycle into your mom's prize snowball bush?" "How could I forget? There wasn't a bloom left on the tree! I was on the handlebars, I saw the whole thing!"

Laughter erupts, and is soon joined by giggles, and whispers, and childhoods of the past. "What 'cha talking about?" The other cousin who really didn't want to read anyway asks, laying her book aside.

The conversation changes to their mothers, the six sisters responsible for this clan. It lasts most of the morning, and the books remain unfinished. But that's okay, there's tomorrow, and five more days after that. Surely conversations will run thin by then.

2002 Past Columns

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