Saturday, May 07, 2011

Sand Dollars

My latest New Yorker magazine has an advertisement on the inside back cover from an "asset management" company. The photo shows a casually dressed, obviously affluent woman of indeterminate (but retirement) age, walking on the beach with her dog.

On the right hand side of the page are four dashes arranged in a column. Beside the lowest one are the words "earn dollars." Above that are "save dollars." Next come "invest dollars." Finally, at the top, we see "sand dollars."

Presumably, if we follow the advice of the asset management company, we can work hard, invest wisely, and retire "comfortably." Then we can stroll beaches looking for sand dollars.

When I saw the ad I immediately thought of the many excursions I took with Mr. Walter O'Neal in his jeep looking for sand dollars in the 1960s and 1970s. I was in my twenties. I decided then to enjoy life, even while earning a living and raising a family. I may not have as much retirement income as the woman in the advertisement (oh, I know she is just a paid model), but I have had a full and rewarding life living in this tight-knit community, surrounded by ocean, sound and sand dollars. And I didn't have to wait forty years to walk along the beach whenever I wanted to.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is a history of the Ocracoke Preservation Society. You can read it here:


  1. Anonymous6:46 AM

    I have a cute little sign w/ two birds sitting on it in a planter which states: "Fill your lives with simple joys"...Philip, you truly understand!

    As I walked outside on this cool, foggy day, with the sun peeking through the clouds in Person county, NC, cows are grazing near the red barn across the road, geese are honking in the pasture, steam is rising from the pond and the male cardinal perched in my crabapple tree greeted me with "Pur-ty, Pur-ty".

    All these "simple joys" after I had enjoyed looking at the Cedar Island ferry leaving Silver Lake via the Ocracoke Harbor web-cam, as well as admiring the blue topaz water on the Teach's Hole web-cam and reading your blog this morning about "sand dollars".

    Now, I'm going outside to have my morning devotions in the quiet of the morning.

    All in all, a beautiful way to begin any day!

  2. debbie s.10:26 AM

    I work from home, have two small kids and a disabled husband (due to stroke)... my simple pleasure... a few times a day, I go outside and sit in my garden with a cup of coffee, if only for 5 or 10 minutes.

    enjoy the sun and warmth, look at my flowers and veggies and cats chasing (sometimes imaginary) critters and revel in hearing the birds (most of whom are smart enough to stay higher than the cats).

    Even if i never get my so-longed-for ocean view... there are joys all around. all you have to do is look for them.

  3. Anonymous10:56 AM

    Is that the issue with the jumbo multi- passenger carriage on the cover? I wondered if it contained members of the neighborhood adult day care facility?

  4. Anonymous11:12 AM

    Philip-I don't have to tell you what a lucky man you are. What do you think you'll be doing ten years from now?

  5. I was referring to the May 2, 2011 issue of the New Yorker. On the cover is a drawing of the British royal family and photographers surrounding "Will & Kate" in bed.

  6. I haven't given much thought to ten years from now. I guess I don't have a ten year plan.

  7. Anonymous12:48 PM

    Hopefully you will be doing the same thing you are doing now - enjoying life!!!

  8. Anonymous2:43 PM

    I agree w/ Debbie and I completely understand how nice it is to "sneak away" for a few moments when you are caring for an ill husband (mine had MS) and sit outside and enjoy the beauty surrounding you.

    My cat, Miss Tom Tom, has taken a fancy to the birdbath under the crabapple tree. She is curled up in it in a tight ball, fast asleep! Of course, the birdbath has no water in it! :)

    It's those "simple joys" which make life so rich and fulfilling!

  9. Anonymous9:27 PM

    Lachlan said today that his idea of paradise was a hammock, a cold drink, a portable CD player and a book. It sounds pretty good to me!

  10. Anonymous11:09 PM

    I can't imagine who could be philling his head with such ideas.