One day - a day that started like any other - I was walking the beach. My beach. My Atlantic Ocean. The eastern seaboard of the United States.
Walking along the Atlantic coastline was always the best way to start a fabulous day ahead of me.
It was morning.
Very. Low tide.
I followed the tide lines.
I walked, and I walked.
I had a bag for collecting shells, as I always do.
My eyes - searching every which way.
Looking for shark teeth.
Looking for the best shell God ever created.
Looking, searching… for treasure.
Treasure - of any kind.
And then, NOT just like any other day, I spotted something out of the corner of my eye.
Was it a shark's tooth?
No way, I thought.
It couldn’t possibly be.
I had only come across two shark teeth in three years of Coastal Living.
The odds were against me, greatly.
Or the luck.
So, as I always do, I walked ahead to check out what caught my eye... what was resting amidst the sand. In the seaweed and brush washed ashore. What was resting among all the tiny and shiny shells?
It was a Shamrock.
At the beach?
It must have been a fake.
Yes, some sort of garbage, washed ashore from distant lands? Fake, plastic flowers? Of course, I thought. I’ve seen all kinds of one and anothers garbage wash ashore. But that was mostly only after large storms or hurricanes had just passed through.
Today, and all the previous days beforehand, were perfect.
Florida. Winter. Perfect.
There were no recent storms.
I bent over.
I kneeled in the sand and crumbled shells. The skin on my knees pressing onto the rough sandpaper feel of the sand itself.
I examined the specimen before me.
I blinked. Trying to refocus my eyes on what lay before me. The sunlight was now blinding my vision - light reflecting off the sand and water, making my ability to see the details of the clover challenging. I blinked again.
Yes, it was a Shamrock.
And actual living and breathing Shamrock. Resting on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean.
I reached over to it and I picked it up.
And I was instantly transported to some new and unfamiliar place - very far away from home.
Where was I?
I was so confused.
What just happened?
I was standing inside a Cafe.
People around me, everywhere.
Friendly conversation, at a most peaceful volume. A calming sound of chatter.
Every table was full.
All were talking with one another.
Scanning the local paper.
Chatting with the barista.
The building was old, with a low ceiling, and exposed, wooden beams, seemingly holding the roof in place on top of us all.
The semi-large room had a very aged, yet warm, and inviting, heavenly appearance.
Warped, dark cherry red wooden walls. Photos and paintings and drawings and sketches covering most of the empty space along each wall.
Detailed, and shiny baseboards, enveloping all that wood surrounding us. Very dark wood floorboards.
And looking up, I noticed the most gorgeous crown molding I ever saw. Crown molding fit for a grand, old, theater lobby. With another shiny glaze of paint atop that wood as well. Where was the beach? Where was my Atlantic Ocean?
Built-in bookcases intermixed amongst the walls of the shop.
I love books.
I was standing directly in the queue for coffee.
I love coffee.
I looked down.
My left hand held my bag of shells.
Sea shells of the Atlantic coast.
Where was my Atlantic Ocean?
Where in the world was I?
My other hand also held onto something.
Something much lighter.
Still looking down, I looked directly to my right hand.
I slowly raised my hand up.
I uncurled my fingers to see what I felt inside my hand.
I tried to open my fingers - they were in a tight grip.
After much concentration, my fingers finally opened to show me what I was carrying.
I was holding on tightly to The Shamrock.
Slightly shocked and confused at the sight of The Shamrock… I gasped. My body shook with this audible gasp. My hand moved abruptly; and during that shake, it was then that I dropped The Shamrock.
Not even a millisecond had gone by, when,
“You dropped something, Mam,” said a man in line behind me, very politely.
At the same time of his words, he bent down and picked up The Shamrock, for me.
After picking it up, he paused, still bending over.
He was looking at The Shamrock.
The Shamrock cupped inside his right hand.
I thought I heard him gasp? As if in shock?
After a short while, the man finally stood up. I disregarded the gasp I thought I heard him make.
“You better hold onto this very tightly, Mam.”
Huh? I thought. Looking at him, thoroughly confused and unaware.
“You have something very special here... Try not to lose it.”
Still confused, I thanked him for picking it up and giving it back to me.
He handed me back The Shamrock and I accepted it. I once again cupped it in the palm of my right hand.
He smiled. And then I turned forward in line again, my eyes glancing at the menu; but my thoughts on the brief conversation that I just had with a stranger.
Those thoughts were interrupted, when,
“Next.” Said the barista, with a large smile on her face. Looking at me. “What can I get for you today? Would you like to try our Irish Coffee?”
“Yes,” I instantly said.
And then I was very confused, once again, as to how quickly I agreed to a drink I never drink.
“That will be $3.00, please,” said the barista.
I looked down at my hands again.
Where was my purse? My wallet?
I moved my shell bag and hung it onto my right arm; the arm of the hand that held The Shamrock. My right hand gripped tightly on the small and delicate clover. I used my left arm to reach into my pocket. And I pulled out some cash. I felt the cash in my hand and stared at it as I brought the cash up toward the counter. I was as confused about the cash as I was over the sight of The Shamrock in my other hand. I never have cash on me. Ever. Where did this money come from?
So, very confused once again, I dropped the crumpled bills onto the counter.
“Thank you,” said the barista, with a smile.
“Have a seat anywhere you like, and we’ll bring your drink out to you in just a few minutes.”
Wondering where I was going to sit because all the tables were full.
In the far corner of the Cafe, surrounded by books, I saw an empty table.
I made my way through the crowded tables and chairs, over to the empty table, and sat down. With a sigh.
There were three chairs at the table. I sat in the corner, middle chair. My back to all the books behind me.
I love books.
I placed my bag of shells onto the wooden chair to my left, next to the crowd of people sitting around me at the other tables. My other hand - my right hand - still held The Shamrock.
For the first time since I dropped the clover while I was standing in line, I let it out of my hand. I delicately placed The Shamrock on the cherry red, round, wooden table. To my right. Next to and facing the window. I looked at it. I stared at it. I looked up. I looked around me.
Everyone around me still chatting. Smiling. Reading books. Flipping the pages of the local paper.
A couple sitting next to me got up to leave. They left a newspaper on the table.
I followed their walk to the front door with my eyes. I was watching them as they were going to leave the shop; but then, they did something very strange...
They didn’t leave the shop.
They simply got back in line.
To order again? Another coffee?
Another Irish Coffee?
Yes, they were waiting in line. Starting all over again.
Why would they leave their newspaper and table for someone else to claim it, if they were staying for another round?
I heard the barista say to them, “Hello. What can I get for you today?” Assuming they were new customers.
“Scones…. coffee….? A newspaper?”
But they had already read the paper. The paper they left on the table.
Instinctively, I leaned over and grabbed the paper, but very gently. I laid it atop my table, to the left of The Shamrock. I was, for some unknown reason, treating the newspaper as delicately as I treated The Shamrock.
The date at the very top of the paper read:
St. Patrick’s Day.
Then, under the date, in large black print, the paper read:
The Doolin Daily.
What is going on? How did I get here?
I stopped my gaze on the newspaper. I didn’t read even one story.
I stared at The Shamrock. I quickly glanced out the window. Little shops and businesses surrounded me outside.
And beyond the shops, and heading out toward the horizon, there rested, in all its heavenly glory, the Atlantic Ocean. I only saw a bit of salty water, peeking through the buildings and landscape, and the initial appearance of it was very different than it was back at home, but somehow I knew it was my Atlantic Ocean, instinctively.
I looked around the interior of the Cafe.
I looked at The Shamrock.
I drank my coffee. It was the best coffee I ever had.
I gulped it down until it was gone.
I wanted more.
The barista instantly came over and refilled my cup of Irish Coffee.
I looked up at her, confused.
“Free refills during your length of stay,” she smiled at me, sincerely. Just come on up to the counter if you’d like to try something different.
Luck of the Irish? I pondered in my head.
I watched as the couple who were in queue again placed another order. I was too far away and it was just a tad too loud in the Cafe for me to hear what they ordered. Obviously they were trying something new? They didn’t order Irish Coffee with free refills?
I reached into my pocket for my IPhone. I had to call my husband.
Was I dreaming?
My phone wasn’t there.
In its place was a pocket full of shells.
My phone was not with me here. Inside this Cafe.
I looked at everyone around me, and in front of me. I was going to ask someone if I could borrow their phone. Yet, not one person had theirs out.
They were all either deep in thought, chatting, or reading.
I did not want to bother any of the customers. They were all deeply involved in what they were doing at their own tables.
Never mind about the phone, I thought. I’ll wait a bit. And then, when someone pulls out their phone, I’ll go up to them and inquire to borrow it.
And I waited.
I sat there for hours.
In the Cafe.
Not one person pulled out a phone.
People came and went throughout this time. But they never really left.
They merely ordered again, and switched tables.
An entire day passed.
But I didn’t seem to mind?
Smiling - saying hello. Saying goodbye. Thanking the barista on the way out of queue.
The Barista - smiling at every patron, on both their way in and on their way out, of queue.
The world around me was at peace, I thought. Inside this quaint little Cafe. A Cafe I didn’t even know the name of.
Only after the entire day had passed did I realize that not once did I ever really physically attempt to actually LEAVE the Cafe myself. I was really and truly enjoying my time in this lovely little coffee shop. I had not tried to leave.
We were now approaching the Golden Hour.
Still soooo, very confused. Hours later.
I couldn’t leave. Yet I also knew I couldn’t stay. I had to get home. My dog and husband would be wondering where I was by this point in the day. Having never come home from my walk along the coast since early that morning.
What time was it?
Certainly, my husband was trying to get in touch with me? Of course. But I didn’t have my phone. I looked around the Cafe again.
No one argued. No one yelled. No one cut in line. Everyone waited their turn - with patience. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed their drink, and no one complained. No one crabbed about the taste of their drinks, or about the very friendly, yet somewhat slow, service.
And the Barista just kept smiling.
And yet, still, during all these hours, I hadn’t read anything in the newspaper resting in front of me, except the top header.
Finally, I flipped the paper over and I read the headline on the bottom front half.
It was an editorial story.
In honor of St. Patrick’s Day.
In large, bold, black, and Times New Roman font, the paper read:
“The Shamrock & The Holy Trinity ~ how the small three leaf clover became a symbol of God himself.”
I put the paper down, once again.
I didn’t read the story.
I didn’t need to...
In the past, I had heard about what The Shamrock symbolizes.
I knew offhand that each of the three leaves represents the following:
The Holy Spirit.
So, I thought about The Shamrock.
And I thought...
I thought about the Cafe. I looked at the Barista, who was still smiling.
I thought about how I could not seem to get up and leave the Cafe.
I was still sitting in this same chair, after hours and hours had gone by.
I looked out the window. The sun was starting to set.
I still could not find a cell phone, I still did not call my husband. But I also just now fully realized that I did not make much of an effort during these past hours to get out of my seat, to walk around the Cafe, or even ask one person if I could borrow their phone. I never actually tried to leave the Cafe. Not once, in all these hours. I was at peace in the Cafe. I enjoyed my time here. A simple and relaxing time. A time and place where everyone was happy. And everyone was at peace with themselves and the world around them. Focused on the present moment. Focused on the here and now.
Not rushing onto their next errand or appointment or other destination, but happy and content to be where they were, presently.
I looked to my left, on the chair next to me. My drawstring bag of shells. I’d like to get them home and put them in the kitchen sink to soak for a while. To wipe off all the excess dirt and sand.
It was the first time I actually truly wanted and desired to leave the Cafe - to really get back home.
And in that next instant,
I looked up, to my right, and out the window.
The Golden Hour was now upon us.
Shoppers were carrying packages. Paper shopping bags with large handles. Green and gold and shiny bags, with tissue sticking out the top. Themed for the holiday.
Amongst the carefree crowd, I saw a man, and a dog. Walking together. I watched them with the sun back-lit surrounding their shapes. They appeared to me as black silhouettes. Floating in the coastal winds.
They walked closer.
As they inched toward the Cafe and came into light, closer to me and toward my window. I noticed the two silhouettes were my husband and my dog. They had found me! Without a cell phone. Without a text. Without an email. How had they found me, across the world from the shores of the Atlantic Ocean? In a Cafe. In Ireland.
I stood up. I went to gather my things and run out the door. To make my first real and physical attempt to leave the Cafe that day.
I refolded the newspaper and placed it nicely aside on the table, leaving it for the next customer, just as the table next to me had done when they got up hours ago. I picked up my shells. I stared at The Shamrock.
I bent over one last time to pick up the small and delicate clover.
When The Shamrock was in my hand, I looked at it, resting in my palm.
Ready to leave.
And then, I looked up.
My husband and my dog were standing directly in front of me. Inside the Cafe. In front of my table.
Both smiling at me.
“How did you find me?” I gasped.
Smiling back at them.
And thoroughly confused.
“Easy,” laughed my husband.
“They have the best coffee this side of the Atlantic,” he paused.
“And free refills,” he declared. So matter-of-factly.
“Where else could you possibly be?”
He reached for my right hand with his hand. Dog leash in his other hand. The Shamrock was tucked neatly inside my right palm.
He grabbed my hand gently.
The Shamrock now gripped inside both our palms. Both our fingers weaved together, holding The Shamrock securely in place in both our hands.
I wondered if my husband even knew or felt its presence, I thought.
And then I thought - I have a lot to tell him. Even though I had nothing to say really, about my very simple day.
We started walking, headed for the front door. Finally.
Our furry creature barked with happiness. In agreement with our action.
She then easily led the way toward the front door of the Cafe. Guiding our way to an unknown future.
We pushed in unison to open the front door.
It was stuck.
All three of us stopped.
We pushed again.
Was it jammed?
All the customers in the shop stopped their conversation, and had their eyes on us.
My dog barked.
The door wouldn’t budge. Was it locked from the inside?
I turned around to face The Barista.
At the very same moment, she said to me, “You have to give it a little kick, and then it’ll open just fine,” she smiled.
So simply. So calm. So matter-of-fact.
All the patrons looked at her as she spoke, and then looked quickly back at us. I thought I saw a hint of confusion in their eyes.
Then, they all turned away. And began chatting with one another again.
My dog barked again.
I said, “O. K.”
And I gave the door a little kick.
It didn’t budge.
But the force of impact hurt my knee.
We both pushed on the door, it wiggled just a bit, and we saw it had some momentum, but was still clearly stuck in the shut position.
My dog barked. Impatient, and ready to walk outside.
So, I stood back just a tad, to gain what little momentum I could, and then pushed forward and kicked my right leg into the door with all my strength.
The door slammed open.
A wave of fresh and salty air rushed into the warm Cafe.
I inhaled. And smiled.
My dog barked again, and this time she kept barking. She was very excited.
All three of us walked out.
Walking forward. Me, having no clue where I really was. But I didn’t care.
Yes, I really could care less. All the confusion stopped as I walked out the door and into the coastal air. I inhaled the salty breeze. I was at peace. I was calm. I was patient. I was so very happy. I knew not what was around the next corner. I knew there were cliffs at the edge of this small town. Cliffs that overlooked the other, unfamiliar, and far away side of my Atlantic... Cliffs that shared the same water as my Atlantic, thousands of miles away.
I saw a sign in a corner window of a small restaurant across the way. Free refills with drink purchase.
The window of the restaurant was warm and inviting and enticing.
How would we get home? Where were we going?
And most importantly, where was my IPhone?...
Ahh, hush, I told my brain. I really didn’t care.
I kept walking the pebbled street. My feet heading in the direction of the neighboring restaurant.
I held on tight.
To my family.
And to The Shamrock.~
What do you love most about St. Patrick’s Day? I’d love to know. Drop me a comment down below:
And, for more stories straight from all of Christine’s Floridian Dreams, check out the links below. Plus, you can sign up to be a SunShine Subscriber while you’re at it, ya know:
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21] Cinotti’s ~ And Why Life Is Too Short To Not Eat Donuts
23] Faith ~ And Life Lessons Learned Living With Wild & Untamable Hair
24] In Real Life ~ My First Visit To A Southern Living Idea House
26] Deck The Chairs ~ BE THAT CHANGE YOU WISH TO SEE IN THIS OUR VERY OWN AND SHAREABLE WORLD
34] Merry Christmas ~ And How To Buy For That Person On Your List Who Saved Your Life ~
36] The End Of A Decade & My New Year’s Wish To You ~
41] Minnie The Daschund Mouse & Her Birthday Wish
49] A Picture Worth A Thousand Words ~ Happy Valentine’s Day, World
51] Life Is Full Of Pasta-Bilities ~ Bean’s Red Sauce Recipe
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