I'm just back from a week with the family in St. George Island, Florida, with a blistering sunburn and an unmanageable number of photos. My family has vacationed in St. George almost every year for the past fifteen years, and although the composition of the family changes -- boyfriends become husbands, some members pass away, new generations are born -- the week's activities stay remarkably the same.
The first thing every morning we watch the dolphins make their daily trek up the shoreline while we breakfast on the balcony of our beach house. Then we usually drive across the bay into the old fishing village of Apalachicola, where we buy nic-nacs from the marine surplus store or drink Coke floats at the old soda shop. Afternoons are devoted to flying kites, blowing bubbles, and building sandcastles on the beach. Or else we ride around the island on rented bikes, exploring the east-end's white sandy beaches and the bay side's marshy coves, home to the occasional 6-foot long alligator! Above all, we eat way too much shrimp, drink way too much beer, and stay up way too late each night playing marathon rounds of Hearts.
Some families prefer to visit new places every year, but I wouldn't want to spend my vacation any other way. And even though I know exactly how the week will play out, I always find it's over far too soon. Like the character Mrs. Ramsay in To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf, I look around me at the idyllic beauty of the island and the magic of summer vacations and family and childhood, and I want to say, "Time stand still here!"
Note: Some images are courtesy of my cousin, Reed, and are labeled as such.