Author of award-winning Forgiving Effie Beck

The Power That Beckons

A few years ago, I realized with an excited flutter that I had two or three days of free time between writing projects. Without much planning I headed for the sea, the Gulf of Mexico – North Padre Island – to be exact. The lullaby of my childhood had been the caw and screech of sea gulls. I received my first kiss sitting on a pier that reached far out into Trinity Bay. And, every summer of my youth I fished and crabbed the bays and inlets with my cousins until our skin was the color of ketchup. Still, during the three hour drive to Padre Island, I struggled to understand the power that beckons me south at times like that. It’s as if I’m called to heed a different code for living, if only for a short while.

After checking into my room I changed into a swim suit and dashed out to walk in the warm sand along the water’s edge. It was late day, a time when sunlight strikes the waves at low, long angles and the water shimmers clear and green as Chinese jade. I could not help but worry about Louisiana, my “sister state,” and how awful it was to watch TV footage of crude oil spewing into precious waters that literally housed my growing-up history. I wondered if people born land-locked far from any shore could possibly understand how painful it was to watch the ruin, to know the future of the Gulf of Mexico was in horrible danger and maybe forever changed by the careless hand of man.

“The cure for anything is salt water – sweat, tears, or the sea.” Isak Dinesen

The next day I waded out to a sand bar, floated on my back and hoped the rhythm of the sea would swallow me. The tide was low, what I think of as soft tide because the waves come in and go out like shallow breaths. I felt suspended on the edge of some dreamy “other” world where all movement, all life is determined by the Cosmos. Brown Pelicans, awkward creatures on land and yet elegant and graceful in the air, sailed above me on a gentle wind, mindlessly following a DNA pattern passed down over the millennia. It was easy to forget a world of email, cell phones, deadlines and oil spills.

During the drive home I felt healed. From what, I have no idea. I stopped to buy a few groceries and on impulse picked up a bouquet of roses. Since I’d never done such an extravagant thing, I could only blame the wind and the waves, the pull of the sea beckoning my particular DNA. I rationalized that the roses were for the sea, the power that had rescued me, made me worthy once again before depositing me back on life’s shore to return to my dreams and my stories.

It’s a blessing to know there is a place at the edge of land where I can let go of the ego-driven drama manufactured by every day life. A place where the Cosmos rules and eventually restores the mess of humans.  


  1. Kathleen Rice Adams

    Karen, this is a truly lovely post. I share your love for the Gulf of Mexico. I was fortunate enough to be able to return to The Edge of the Land fourteen years ago, and at last I feel whole again. I pray I never have to move away again. 🙂



    It never ceases to amaze me how different terrains affect different people. I, too, was raised by the sea, on a spit of land between the Atlantic Ocean and Jamaica Bay, and then later spent a chunk of my life in a house overlooking Cardigan Bay in Wales. Yet, perhaps because I've suffered their fury, been kept awake by their roar, tossed around like a hankie in a washing machine, I'm glad to have the seaside in small doses and go dashing into the arms of mountains to be hugged in valleys and breathe salt-free air. I'm sitting here looking out at the Tetons as I write, at a sky so blue and cloudless you think it has to have been painted. And I'm breathing the clearest, freshest (salt-free) air.

  3. Karen Casey Fitzjerrell

    Thank you Kathleen. I bet there are many like us. It's very hard to describe how I'm transformed when I drive up to the dunes and get out of the car. The sound of the surf is the first thing that strikes me – the boom of waves crashing on shore. Then I walk over the dunes to see and smell the water and I know I'm "home." Thanks for commenting.

  4. Karen Casey Fitzjerrell

    Andrea – maybe it's that sense of a place where we feel a "good fit" which most inspires us to write. Whether it's in the mountains and valleys or on the salt flats along the Gulf coast. Thanks to you my experience in the Wyoming wilds last year altered the way I think of "horizons." But do give me salt air any day. It's sooooo good for the skin. Just saying.

  5. Brigid Amos

    I moved my parents up here from the Alabama Gulf Coast to Nebraska a little over a year ago. Despite the stress of traveling back and forth and being away from my husband for long periods, I really miss spending time down there. And yes, I got a lot of writing done back then!

  6. Irene Bennett Brown

    I found myself giving a huge relaxed sigh just reading this beautiful post and looking at the rainbow over the sea and the yellow roses. What a nice start to my day! Thanks, Karen.

  7. Karen Casey Fitzjerrell

    Yes, Brigid – something about the waves, wind, sand – I am always refreshed and moved to write. Thanks for commenting. Good luck with your own new blog.

  8. Karen Casey Fitzjerrell

    Ahhhh. Irene, I'm glad if my post made your day. I took the photos from the third floor balcony of the condo I'd rented for the few days I was at the coast. It truly is magical how I change and shift gears after visiting the coast.

  9. Alice Trego

    How lyrical this post is, Karen, seeming to match the rhythms of the water you write about as you floated on the top, content to be away from the reality of life and its stresses. I too am amazed that nature calls to me in the form of trees escaping into mountains. Man can establish roads amongst these trees and mountains, but majestic as they are, they pay no heed to what is manmade. That's what fascinates me. Thank you for this lovely post, to remind me of my own pleasures I have with the wonders of Mother Nature's world I live in.