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The Invitation

As we chatted on the sand in front of our beach rental, a couple of surfers appeared carrying their boards and started heading down the beach. My friends have done a little surfing and I’m always looking for a photo opportunity, so we soon followed.

We stood on rocks on the beach and watched as the surfers tried to find that “just right” wave. I was engrossed in my photography and didn’t hear the voice calling out to us at first. My friends heard a woman yelling and soon we all were trying to figure out who was yelling and why. After a minute or two, we realized an older woman in a red sweatshirt was standing on the deck to her home high above the ocean and was motioning us away from the ocean. We looked at each other and back at her and I finally said “I think she’s concerned we’re too close to the ocean and that we’ll be swept off the rocks.” We

moved slightly and yet she continued to yell and motion. I started to get a little irritated as did my friends and then I remembered the king tides that had taken the lives of two children just a month or so earlier at a spot very close to this location. As we talked about this, we all softened a little bit and moved a little more and continued to watch the surfers. The yelling stopped and we figured we either had moved enough to satisfy her or she had decided if those fools want to kill themselves, I’ve done what I can to try and save them.

That theory soon disappeared when I heard my friends say “Here she comes!” I looked up to see the short, gray haired lady in a red shirt heading directly toward us walking with purpose and a slight limp. I thought “Oh, oh . . . here comes the lecture.” I was first in her path and so she walked up to me and asked if we were with the surfers. I stuttered a little bit and said “Nnoooo . . . we just saw them walking down the beach, so we decided to watch them for a bit.” I braced myself for what I knew was coming next – a stern reprimand. Instead, she said “Oh, I thought you were all together. I saw you taking pictures and thought you might like to come up to my deck and take pictures from there. That’s why I was calling to you and motioning you up my way.” Her motioning and “yelling” weren’t a scolding. They were an invitation.

As we were busy recalibrating our thoughts about the whole situation, she said “Well, even so, if you do decide you’d like to take some pictures from my deck, just knock on my door, so I’ll know you’re there. And by the way, my name is Ann.” With that she turned and started to walk away. We looked at each other and talked for about 5 seconds and said “Why not!” We called out to Ann and said “We’d like to take you up on your kind offer Ann, if that’s OK.” She said “Sure!” and led the way towards her beach house perched above the ocean. We chatted with Ann the whole way up the hill learning all about the neighborhood and the community. She led us to the perfect spot to watch the surfers and take in the beautiful views. She stood with us the whole time and continued to share all kinds of interesting history and stories about the area.

My mind kept moving between taking in the kind and generous nature of this woman and contrasting it against the story I had fabricated in my head. If she hadn’t walked down to the beach, in our minds she would have just been a crazy woman yelling from her deck. Instead, we were given the opportunity to check our story and find out just how wrong we were. As we walked away from Ann’s house, we talked about the experience all the way back down the hill. I think we all knew that thanks to Ann, we had just been given a beautiful lesson in humanity.

Note: This is a picture of the view from Ann’s house. If you look carefully, you’ll see a couple of surfers near the center of the picture.


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