Here’s my Sunday world, in about 25 miles and five hours.
The yoga babes connect and head for the 10:15 ferry, which is currently at the “yellow” threat level, according to TSA. Given how peaceful it is here on the water, I’m inclined to think that refers to the yellow-green pollen, which is coating houses, cars, and the interior of nasal passages with irritating chartreuse dust. We are at the chartreuse threat level. It’s one of the few complaints I have about spring.
White herons stalk and work the shoreline for fish as the ferry pulls out. The birds pay us no mind, acting as if the ferry zips to and from the island on a regular basis. Which it does. Cormorants sit on the channel markers and watch us head off the tip of the island. Later they’ll disappear under the water for way too long, popping back above the surface nowhere near where they dove down. I worry about them down there, but they don’t seem to care. They dive anyway, again and again.
Screaming seagulls follow the ferry, jockeying for thrown food and good camera angles. (Note to tourists: If God had intended seagulls to eat Wonder Bread, the ocean itself would produce that crap. Just don’t do it. Please.)
From the ferry landing, it’s a pretty straight shot: You take the main road (might be the only road) out of town until you come to the “Worms & Coffee” sign (I am not joking) at the little gas station, and turn down the side road there.
Mobile homes, brick ranches with dog pens out back, long dusty driveways. We drive a couple of miles. We pass the Antioch Baptist Church, whose sign warns: “You can spurn the Lord for only so long.”
Soon we pass the Praise the Lord Beauty Salon, a Pentecostal church, and the Midway Gun and ATV Club.
A curve in the road, a “Visitors Welcome” sign and we’re there, at the Thai Buddhist Monastery, Wat Carolina.
It’s Songkran, the Thai New Year’s Water Festival. There are dances, chanting, a dharma talk. I watch; I listen. I don’t understand a word of the various ceremonies that appear to be taking place simultaneously. I eat wonderful food – hot, aromatic, and much of it unrecognizable to me.
I don’t understand a word, but I feel positive energy everywhere around me. We march around the outside of the temple, and I can figure out how and when to shout and clap with the others. I am splashed with water for good luck and prosperity in the new year. Lots of water.
We sit again inside the temple and a man with a huge ball of twine wraps it around us all. I am on the inside of the circle, and for a while I feel like I belong here. I suppose I am a sightseer, a tourist, but I don’t feel like one. I am peaceful. I feel part of this circle. The man unwraps the twine, but I am still part of the circle. Later the monks will wrap prayers into the twine and people will tie the prayer-filled twine around their wrists.
Soon it’s time to leave, and we make our way back to the ferry. We drive, a little too fast the last few miles, and our car is the last one to make it on the ferry before it leaves. We are grateful.
The TSA sign still says the threat level is “elevated.”
Somehow I don’t believe it just now.