On a dark and dusty bookshelf on the island of St. George, I found a treasure. For the exchange of one dollar, it became mine.
“That looks like a great read!” a delicately seasoned voice said.
Turning to see who had spoken, my eyes greeted a handsome silver-haired couple.
My thoughts had been a million miles away. Caught by surprise, I was momentarily speechless and wondered what to say.
But alas, my slow response didn't deter this couple from gently drawing me into the present. And 30 minutes later, they seemed like dear old friends!
“Kathi, come to our party tomorrow night!” the gentleman said.
“Yes, ” the wife said. “Do come and join our November revelries! It is always such fun! We have hayrides and square dancing and fish off the grill!”
She reached into a beautiful drawstring bag and pulled out a festively designed and engraved invitation.
Going to a party had been the last thing on my mind. When I fled Tallahassee for that long weekend getaway, I expected to find a slow island rhythm - after all, it was November. I mistakenly thought: Who would want to be on the beach in November? Please don't get me wrong - I love winter beach days. But that might be because I'm a snowbird who grew up with picnics in the snow and sunbathing on the roof when the temperature hit 50 degrees.
Dipping my index finger into the snow-white sand, I traced the shape of a large cross with one side for the plusses and one for the minuses. From the left to the right, I listed and summed up my thoughts.
Left side: My heart had been set on spending the last night of my vacation curled up in my flannel jammies on the snowy white, down-filled chaise lounge back at the beach cottage, savoring the printed pages of my new book.
Right side: This invitation sounded so good. While the theme for the party popped with pizzazz, it was really the contagious charm of this couple that led me to rethink my plans. How could I not be drawn to people who had so graciously made me feel a tiny sense of belonging?
I found my answer. Hopping up, I brushed off the sand and sprinted toward my car.
“How about 10 pounds of that stone crab?” I said to the clerk of the waterfront fishery, as I pointed to the iced bed of the famous and exquisite-tasting Florida delicacy.
Later, in the vibrant red and turquoise fish-themed kitchen of the beach cottage, I rolled up my sleeves and started cracking.
When I arrived at the beach plantation with my large, oval wicker basket of stone-crab claws, flaming tiki torches greeted me and illuminated the pebbled path. Mouthwatering char-grilled aromas merged with the salty breezes that blew off the Gulf. The large beach mansion rocked with the sounds of rawhide and buckskin music. Hay-filled wagons were parked nearby and a large bonfire could be seen in the distance.
Looking back on this experience, I shake my head in praise of the serendipitous moments of life and the amazing lessons that can be learned from them and how the things we sometimes think are treasures might only be just the passageway to the real treasure! From this couple, I discovered kindred spirits who showed me a glimpse of what it is like to be the very best possible version of oneself. Now, in my book, that is a treasure, indeed!
MORE IDEAS FROM KATHI
The annual Florida stone-crab season has arrived! Our Florida coastal waters are home to one of the world's finest culinary treasures. Generally, from late October to April, Florida stone crabs are available in fine seafood markets. They are already cooked because stone crabs need to be cooked immediately after harvest; otherwise, the delectable crabmeat will stick to the inside of the shell.
Just crack all the sections of the shell with a hammer or a nutcracker and pick out the meat. Don't do all the work yourself, though. Let your guests get in on the fun, too! Stone-crab parties make for a spectacular November party theme.
Their taste is pure heaven - so sweet and light and delicate. Florida stone-crab claws are one of the rare foods of the world that need little embellishment.
© 2006 Kathi Dameron, Kathi Dameron and Associates This article originally appeared in the Northeast Chronicle, a Florida newspaper on November 8, 2006.
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Kathi Dameron is a free-lance writer, blogger and consultant who is available for writing assignments, speaking engagements, and food and entertaining workshops. The Entertaining With Kathi column is available to newspapers, magazines and digital media for syndication. Entertaining With Kathi Cooking Class inserts, show scripts and customized content-rich advertising opportunities are available for purchase. For information contact Kathi directly at 850-422-3599.