It started with a hand shake and a bag of marshmallows……
From the balcony, the warm glow of a fire on the beach beckoned. Our four year old girls still had enough energy left to finish up our day at the beach roasting marshmallows. Grabbing the bag of Jet Puffs, the girls, and a beach towel, we were out the door. On the way down, I reminded the girls to pick up a few long sticks.
As we approached the people around the fire, I held up the bag of the mushy morsels, as if a peace offering, and asked in my best caveman voice, “Okay to share your fire?” The guy poking at the fire with a long piece of drift wood looked up from the fire and with his best mid-west welcome said, “You bet, come on in!”
He introduced himself as Bob from Michigan, his brother, and a few buddies. After hand shakes all around, we were busy skewering the marshmallows for the little girls.
Traveling from the mid-west, these guys were fascinated with the loud surf, the jutting rocks that made up the Oregon Coast. We were exchanging our home state niceties, when from above the bluff, Don, the condo manager, wagged a finger and shouted, “NO BONFIRES ON THE BEACH!!” and stormed off. Seconds later we all glanced around and simultaneously roared in laughter at that notion. Bob flung a few more hunks of drift wood on the fire.
Before the girls got their sticky fingers and faces any more gooey, we thanked the guys for the fire and carried the sleepy kids up to bed.
The next morning we got up, packed the car, and headed home. On the way, dreaming of our next weekend getaway.
A couple weeks later in a jumble of mail, a postcard fell onto the table. On it was a picture of a 50’s era motor lodge. There was a small photo of two neatly made beds, a canoe on a lake, and people gathered about a fire. Flipping it to the other side was a return address and a note scrawled across the card, “ NO BONFIRES ON THE BEACH!!”. And in smaller letters, Michigan Bob. I threw back my head and roared with laughter.
Since then Michigan Bob and I have swapped hundreds of postcards. I might get two or three a month. One day I received two cards. There are times where a postcard arrives the very day I just sent one off. Never much to say, heck, it’s a postcard, how much can you write? Normally it’s just the typical guy banter: football, beer, the next canoe trip.
Over the years, I’ve learned so much about Michigan… the state flower… the state flag… the state rock. Twice I’ve met up with Michigan Bob after that warm summer night on the Oregon Coast. He’s invited me out for a week-long canoe trip in his home town and we met once in Central Oregon for a weekend of hiking and wilderness. Fun Times!!
Today, I’m looking forward to my next postcard invitation to a bonfire on the beach.