Looking through old photographs, I came across one I had not seen in years. It was a silhouette of me at sunset. I was squatting in the sand on Taboga Island off the coast of Panama. On the back, I'd jotted in pen, June 1972. Looking back, I realize that I've spent a lot of time by the water.
When Jilda and I married in 1974, we spent our honeymoon in Laguna Beach, Florida, which is west of Panama City. There's a picture of us standing in the surf. We were both reed-thin but smiling as if there was not a care in the world.
Our most unforgettable vacation was the ten days we spent in Ireland in the spring of 1999. The view from the Cliffs of Moher changed the way I viewed the ocean. Standing on the North Atlantic's rocky edge facing west, it looked like the ocean was never-ending. It seemed that time stood still.
Last year, we celebrated our anniversary in Savannah. We spent time on Tybee Island and ate seafood at a restaurant close enough to the Atlantic that you could hear the surf.
I sometimes think that Jilda and I should have saved our money and bought a place by the water.
My love started when I was still in grade school. Every day during the summer, I was fishing, swimming, or skipping rocks off Horse Creek. I didn't learn till much later that it was called Horse Creek, but it was MY creek. I knew every inch of the bank. I knew where to put a minnow basket, the best place to dig red worms, or catch bream.
I also knew the best places to go skinny dipping without having to worry about getting caught with my pants down.
When I was a teenager, my dad bought a lot on the river. My older brother and I helped my dad build a small two-room cabin.
With hammers and nails, we built that cabin with sawmill lumber. Across the front was a porch with a squeaky swing, a glider, and cane-bottom chairs.
We spent countless hours at that cabin. I loved the night sounds. Calls of owls and whip-o-wills were common. You could also hear beavers swimming downriver. Now and then, they'd raise their flat tails and spank the water making a spaluuuuunnnnnkkkkkk sound.
When my dad started having health problems, he sold the cabin to a river neighbor who used the cabin as a storage shed.
Back in 2007, Jilda made reservations at Wheeler State Park for my birthday. We had a room in a small hotel on the water. At sunset, we poured ourselves a glass of red wine and walked down to the dock
Off in the distance, we saw a flock of ducks land gracefully on the lake. It looked as if it had been choreographed just for us.
We sat on benches and watched the setting sun make ever-changing kaleidoscope images with the clouds. It's moments like these that you wished lasted forever.
Did I mention that I love the water?
Rick Watson is a columnist and author. His latest book, "Life Goes On," is available on Amazon.com. Click here to order your copy today. You can contact him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.