Spring Break

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Around noon one day we drove to Captiva, a smaller island just north of Sanibel. The sand is slightly rougher there (it was replenished recently), and the water is a brighter turquoise. Anne Morrow Lindbergh spent a week here without husband or children in 1955. She rented a cottage, walked the beach, and went home to write Gift from the Sea , her classic meditation on solitude, marriage, and family.

We had lunch at the Bubble Room, a Captiva experience as unlike Mrs. Lindbergh’s as you could find. Every available square inch of the restaurant is taken up with memorabilia: Christmas decorations (including bubble lights), movie posters, old toys, jukeboxes, even an antique diving helmet. We ordered hamburgers and homemade potato chips, and our Cokes arrived in old-fashioned green bottles, each with a cherry on top. At the end of the meal waiters dressed in Scout uniforms passed trays loaded with seven kinds of homemade cake, each hunk the size of a baseball glove. I could skip the costume but not the cake.

We hadn’t planned to bring home shells from Sanibel. Gradually, though, little piles began to accumulate on the steps of our cottage. A few wound up in our pockets, and for weeks after we got home I’d find a very clean shell or two at the bottom of the washing machine. Eight months later, from across the room, Jim heard me mention the word April . “Mom,” he said in a demanding tone adolescence has done nothing to soften, “we’re going back to Sanibel.”

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