Frazzled Marc, half way through my 40s!

Frazzled Marc, half way through my 40s!
Frazzled Marc, half way through my 40s!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Cloud Animals and Beach Memories

I was driving home from work today westward towards the setting sun. It's a long drive home along Rt 78, just straight for a good 20 or so miles with the expanse of the sky ahead of you, the Blue Mountain Ridge to your north, and farmland to your south. I glanced up and spied a cloud moving quickly in the winds that looked like an elephant galumphing across the late afternoon blue sky. What is galumphing you may ask? It means to gallop triumphantly, but also clumsily, or heavily!

In 1959, my father Robert Haynes and his first wife, Nanda Ward, wrote and illustrated a book, The Elephant That Galumphed.  It was a children's story about a young Indian elephant named Tajal who refused, despite parental disapproval, to walk quietly. He instead "galumphed."  One can imagine the noise associated with a young elephant just galumphing through the underbrush! The cloud I was watching (while driving) looked just like an elephant galumphing across the sky on strong March winds. I smiled thinking about my father's books. And I always loved that word, galumphing.

*****

My sight moved to other cloud shapes. There was a dove streaking towards the setting sun! And in the corner of my sight, above the mountain ridge that I follow home, was a dog in the midst of barking laughter at the entire ridiculous scene playing out. My mind wandered back to the summers of the 70's when as a kid, I would lay on my back on the sandy beaches of Strathmere, New Jersey, staring up at the clouds rushing by, imaging shapes as I was doing now.

My family and I would take day trips down to the beaches of the Jersey Shore. It didn't cost much, and for a family watching every dollar, it was a cheap getaway. We piled into the car with beach chairs, beach towels, coolers of food for lunch, jugs of sweet iced tea, sunscreen, a battery operated radio, paddle ball, buckets and shovels for that necessary sand castle, and of course who could forget the Frisbee!

Staring at the clouds, I would drift in and out of sleep from the hot summer sun. The air smelled of sea spray and only the occasional Jersey horse fly would awake me from a sun-baked stupor. Adam and I would also spend time investigating the tidal pools which existed near the inlet for sea creatures or we'd hunt for sand crabs in the departing waves, looking for their air bubbles.  We'd boogie board the small waves for hours and then make our sand castles only to have them torn down by the approaching tide in the late afternoon.

Mom and Dad would corral Sheryl, Adam, and I together for our requisite family walks down the beach. Watching the surf, sea planes, and sailboats, Dad would stop us to look at an occasional shell or interesting rock that had washed up on the beach. He was and still always looks for the beauty or art in the ordinary. After we got back, we'd relax another hour or so. A chill in the air and the incoming tide signaled that this day at the beach needed to draw to an end.

We'd gather all of our beach belongings and head for the car. Even though we brushed most of the sand from our feet, we inevitably brought some into the car. I remember my feet itching the hour or so drive back to our home in Wenonah. Dad and Mom would treat us to soft serve ice cream at one of the many stands that dotted the local highway back to town. We three kids would look at each other with such happiness, such contentment, faces dripping from ice cream.

*****

My thoughts came back to the highway, driving home from work. My exit was coming up. I gave one final look to the elephant galumphing across the sky southward. He was disappearing into the "underbrush" of the other clouds. I smiled and gave a him a thank you for the fond memories during a long drive home.

4 comments:

  1. Great Memories.
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  2. The memories flooded back to me as I read your entry....the early morning packing for the shore...the late night, badly sun-burned kids asleep int he back of the station wagon...sans seat belts of course...a day well loved...thanks for reminding me Marc.

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  3. One of the greatest joys that I get in writing these essays are that they trigger so many similar memories of my readers. Thanks for the comments! :)

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  4. Hi Marc,

    I thought that I would look to see if I could find the book -- and I found it -- complete with an image of the cover on amazon.com

    The Elephant That Ga-Lumphed [Hardcover]
    Nanda and Haynes, Bob Ward (Author)

    Perhaps you want to borrow the photo and put it on your blog.

    It is great to know that Wenonah had some authors back then. I moved into Wenonah at 6 years old in 1959. We sold my mother's house on N. Monroe Ave. after she passed away in 2004. Lots of good memories. Thanks for sharing yours!

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