I DON’T believe I’d be able to recall hours of my childhood more sweetly spent, or time more fully enjoyed by the entire family, as a whole, than the timeless weekend afternoons spent at Crandon Park, out on Key Biscayne.
I remember in pictures, mostly (or maybe contrasts?). For example, stepping out of the brilliant golden sun (which we’d not yet learned to fear, even a little) into the lush encompassing shade created by the extravagant green canopy of sea grape leaves overhead. It was like a magical “room” without walls– with the most beautiful view of a pale blue sea, just over there– and a soft sandy floor dusted lightly with green grass. Within that shade sat the sacred family “hearth,” a well-used BBQ grill, around which we would all huddle, fascinated, and as hungry as we could remember being. Something about the salt air seemed to put an “edge” even on our generally voracious appetites, transforming that first bite of whatever might come our way, hot off the grill, into something very like a religious experience.
We knew that God is good, and that we were loved.
And the beauty of it is, I’m sure that’s still true today, for those of other generations. It seems a “living” thing that sweet memories are being freshly minted, to be stored up as a treasure to last a lifetime. (The image accompanying dates to the early 1950’s, but my experience in the decade to follow would not have been much different.)
I’ve had few fine meals, anywhere in the world, to compare to the burgers, hot dogs, or Bar-B-Q that came sizzling off that smokin’ grill, along with the cold drinks in the ice chest and, or course, the fixings. Wow! is all I can say.
Writer and wit Dorothy Parker once observed, “The funny thing, is the things that we remember.” On one such family “outing” (as they were called in more innocent days), when we were very young, I recall my Dad remarking, “Hunger is the best sauce.” It’s bizarre how the simple memory has stayed with me, so busily was I digging in to the ungodly heaping paper plate before me, focused and “in the moment” in that zen-like manner that can on occasion come quite naturally to the little ones.
And all the while, in the near distance the waves crashed softly upon the shore, and it sounded like music.