Sunday, August 4, 2013

Three Dolphins, Two Bike Rides, and a Thunder Storm

On our last day on Kiawah Island, Garrett humored me by joining in on a bicycle ride. I always love exploring via bike, even though traffic and bumps and declining hills tend to fill me with anxiety.

I'm so glad that we took the chance to ride our bikes through the island, though, because it's one of my favorite memories from the trip. We rode past golf courses, through marshes, over bridges, and in the forest. Everything was so green, so lush, that we felt like we were somewhere tropical. Oh, and it rained the whole time, too.

For whatever reason, the rain didn't bother us. Well, it bothered Garrett for a moment, as he was worried about ruining his Allen Edmonds. After slipping them off and into his backpack, all was well again.

Garrett and I stopped in a dry spot as the rain started to come down particularly hard. For a moment, the world was quiet. The cicadas stopped singing and traffic ceased. The only noise to be heard was the hush of the torrential downpour as it fell with all of its fury.

Once the downpour lightened a bit, we rode on. It was a warm, humid day, and the rain provided relief as the cool drops fell onto our sunburned skin. To me, there are few prettier things than rain falling in sunlight. The air shined gold as the drops fell like tiny golden needles to the ground, scattering and dispersing light as they hit.

When we returned to the condo, out of breath and wet from the rain, we discovered that it hadn't rained there at all. Shivering from the cool of the air conditioning, we changed into dry clothes and sank into the couches to rest.

About an hour later, Garrett asked me if I wanted to take another bike ride, this time down the beach. I readily said yes. We changed into bathing suits and hopped on the bikes once more.

This time, it wasn't raining, but it was equally as beautiful. The sun was setting and everything around us was covered in a dusting of blue-gold light. We were being cheesy and singing off-key to a hodge-podge of songs, happy to be near the ocean and playing outside once more (something you can't do in the heat of a Phoenix summer).

We rode our bikes until the terrain allowed us to ride no more, after about 3 miles. The ocean, which had flanked us on our left side, turned in and stopped us from riding further. There was a small boat filled with passengers drifting in the tiny cove and three other people standing on the banks. Everyone was quiet.

Neither of us doubted why the others were there, it was so beautiful. Garrett and I hopped off of our bikes and grabbed some water. We both nodded out to a grouping of Great Blue Herons, swooping in and standing together. Out of the corner of my eye, I spotted two dolphins rising about a foot off of the bank to catch air.

"OH!" I yelled, covering my mouth quickly as though I had scared the dolphins away. "Garrett," I whispered harshly, "look! Dolphins!"

We trekked through small puddles and parked ourselves  as close as possible to the water's edge. After a moment, one of the dolphins rose again.

We stood there, trying to stretch our vision over the entire cove to see where the dolphins might rise next, for a long, long time. Everything was silent, not a person spoke. Even the boat, trolling after the dolphins, made no noise. The only sound that filled the air was the gentle rushing of the water and the intermittent puffs of breath from the surfacing dolphins.

The sky was still a golden blue, reflecting doubly in the iridescent glint of the ocean. The water sparkled gold as the dark, navy blue backs of the dolphins broke its surface. Each time they rose I  felt as though I was experiencing one of the most beautiful sights in the world. My cheeks ached from smiling and my chest tired from the constant strain of excitement, but I didn't care. Standing there, holding my husband's hand and witnessing one of the finest gifts nature has ever offered, I was in pure bliss.

That bliss dropped slightly as a loud boom of thunder clapped our ears. I kept my eyes straight ahead, searching for the dolphins. Garrett looked to the right and saw the storm rolling in. The soft lighting changed, ever so slightly, as black clouds began to take over the sky.

 "Aud, we have to go," Garrett said, "I just saw lightning."

I didn't want to leave. I didn't care about the storm. I could have stayed there on that quiet beach forever. Garrett, however, could not.

With a sigh and slight slumping of my shoulders, I acquiesced. We hopped on our bicycles and peddled off, away from the water's edge. Garrett was of course moving faster than I was, and I took a chance in diagonally drifting back to the water. My timing was perfect, because three dolphins rose right then, right there.

"Garrett!" I called, laying my bike on the ground. "Come back! Look! They just rose right here!"

Sensing my childlike excitement, he rode back to join me. We waited another five minutes, and saw the dolphins break surface once more on their way out to the ocean.

"Ok," Garrett admonished, "we have to go now." As if to back his urgency, the thunder clapped again.

 I said a mental goodbye to the dolphins, the herons, and the peace of that tiny cove.

We rode toward home in a hurry, Garrett ahead of me and circling back to give me encouragement. My legs were tired. My knees were achy. I was sore, but more importantly, completely happy. The black sky washing in with every boom of thunder and flash of lightning didn't bother me. For Garrett, though, I tried to ride faster. It was maybe the longest three miles of my life.

Fat drops of rain started to fall just as our condo came into view. Knowing that I was close to being done,  I gave one final push. We approached the boardwalk, hopped off as the sand got thick, and pushed our bikes home in the rain.

I will remember this day and keep it close to my heart forever. If I close my eyes, I can still see the rain falling in the sunlight. I can feel the grind of the sand beneath my bicycle wheels. I can taste the salt of the air. I can hear the puff of the dolphins' breath. And, above all, I'll remember holding my husband's hand in wonderment through it all.

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