Once Upon a Beach

by Judy Via-Wolff

Franklin was beach fishing. I’d been lost all morning in my canvas and paints. When I paint I lose all track of time. I become mesmerized in my work capturing the light and colors around me. The waters of the Keys draw my soul. That was after all why we took the charter boat to the Dry Tortuga Islands.

The only place I could think of with vistas, old architecture and turquoise water was this beach and Fort Jefferson. We live in Florida so coming to the Dry Tortugas was easy. Here I could fill my canvas with all the elements in my minds eye. I needed to finish my series of mystical archways and ever changing skies and waters. We camped on the beach. We brought little with us except fishing supplies, camping supplies and my paints.
Mel also came with us to write in her journal and enjoy the monastic feeling one gets here from the solitude, sun and sea.

Franklin was calling me, “Michelle, you have to see this”! I got up and went to look where he was pointing. There on the beach was a nest of turtle eggs just beginning to hatch. We were fascinated and I needed a break. We marked the area with pink tape from my paint box.

I wanted to show Mel the eggs. The last time I saw her was last night, sitting in a long corridor of the Fort, deep in thought and writing. We worked like that. Me lost in painting, Mel lost in her writing.

Mel and I met at an artist’s retreat years ago. We respected each other’s craft. We both eventually moved to Florida where I met and married Franklin. A true Floridian.

So, where was Mel? We walked the beach to the Fort. It was still pretty early so not many people were around. We toured this magnificent fort as we had many times before. It was always intriguing. We did not see Mel.

I found a piece of paper in Mel’s handwriting. It was under one of the open arched windows to the turquoise sea.

“Undercurrents, Misty moons, Stars of ancient worlds…
Calling winds of crystal bays, lapping in the night”…

We walked back to the beach. This whole place has such a calming affect on the soul. Franklin cooked some fish.

A figure came toward us on the beach. It was Mel…waving. “I’ve been looking for you” she said. “I want to show you what I’ve found”.

She led us to the hatching turtle eggs and she laughed when she saw the pink tape. We’d been looking for Mel. Mel was looking for us. It was all for the same wonderful reason.
That day I did a painting of baby turtles on a beach with driftwood. This could be the beginning of my next series.

Mel had finished her journal. I gave her the page I found in the Fort, which so perfectly described the magical, mystical attraction of this place…

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