Six women: we chose each other decades ago, to be together for a time, and we are together still, in our 50’s and 60’s and now we know we will be together ‘til the end.  Our monthly Friday evenings easily warped into stolen week-ends from children and husbands, and then into full-bodied vacations, chosen by the one of us who was turning 40 that year, then 50, and now, even, 60.  We invariably, except for once when we visited the desert mountains of New Mexico, spend our time by the water.  Always the ocean.  We are drawn to the ocean; she has a pull on us that is primal, powerful beyond words.  The ocean feels as necessary to our well-being as breathing.

And so, that day, that week-end, we were heading to Block Island, RI to celebrate the  youngest of us, the last to become 50 years old. We were arriving in spurts of one or two or three because of work and family obligations. Three of us were together, heading to the ferry, early in the morning, to cross to the island.

I pulled up to the little wooden shack where the ticket-taker meets the cars and receives payment for the ferry ride.  The ticket-taker asked for my license plate information; when he learned we are from PA, he mentioned he had lived for a while in Clark Summit.  He had lived there for seven years; when I asked why he had returned to Rhode Island, he said he missed the water.  Although his face was sober, his blue eyes caught the sparkle of the sun as he added that “you can’t live in the foothills of the Poconos when you have wet feet”.  And then he added, “..and you can’t turn into a seal at night”.

I felt a jolt of connection and asked him his name and he told me, Martin.  “Martin,” I said, “Where do you keep your pelt?”

Without a pause, he moved his hand down across his chest and belly and replied, “Oh I just sort of transform into it.”

I grinned at him in delight and he smiled.

A moment, an opportunity, a Gift.

Leave a comment


  1. Starla J. King

     /  February 14, 2012

    Oh, Tina.. your gift of story… THANK YOU. I heard you tell this story in person… and the written version of it is equally stunning in that Ghahhhh! sort of “hit the heart” way. Especially with the ocean photo in the background of your blog. I’ll be thinking much about seals and transformation and Gifts and love today.

  2. Tina Burkholder

     /  February 15, 2012

    mmmm -thank you Starla; I love that last sentence!

  3. Very nice indeed….don’t stop, or the writing gnomes will stalk you. I know, they told me, the little stinkers.

  4. Oh Ted! That may be just what I need! Writing Gnomes!

  5. Suzan stern

     /  February 20, 2012

    Hello miss mermaid
    Come play with me in the sea
    Feel the flow as our inner souls guide us
    To the place of great joy and peace
    Rolling, flipping and turning
    See your bubbles float to the surface
    Creating reflections of color that pop in the sunlight

  6. Carolyn Bergey

     /  February 24, 2012

    Tina – every time I read this it brings tears to my eyes and warmth to my heart. This story will forever be one of my favorites. As I listened and watched you and Martin talk that day, I will never forget the twinkle in his eye and the delight on your face. It was magical.

  7. Karen Goren

     /  February 25, 2012

    In response to my sister, a poem, called The Mermaid and the Owl:
    Dips into the smooth surface, Shattering the quiet calm. Of cold depth. Creatures awaiting, below the surface to encounter the day……..She swims……A flash of wing above. Glides in the breeze, silver and bold. To awaken the divine within.


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