On the June morning of Queen Elizabeth’s official birthday, I was far across the ocean from her big to-do. It was a Saturday morning, and I slipped out of the bed and onto the condo’s balcony just as the sun arrived over the Atlantic.
Far away in the distance, where Florida’s blue waters wash into the blue sky, I could see a boat. It seemed content to simply make a slow voyage. No hurry. Even the tides took their good time to splash onto the beach and rearrange the sand. No one walked along the edge of the country or waded into the waters that early. The pelicans had not yet come by to hunt small fish for breakfast.
The morning was about finished in England, but there was plenty of afternoon and evening still to enjoy. Even though she had actually turned 90 in April, the Queen was taking another day to celebrate in a big-time way.
My solitude would be short-lived that morning. My wife would soon awake and join me. Then our son and his family would jump up from beds like Pop Tarts in toasters and be energized for another vacation day (or “holiday” as the Queen would say).
No wonder the younger generation needed more sleep. They worked so hard at this business of taking it easy. Their long days and nights had been busy, shopping in crowded Disney stores, standing in long lines at Universal’s theme park, playing along Daytona’s beach in the hot sun. Just thinking about their full days of continuous activities make me tired.
That Saturday came five days into our family’s adventure. The two of us old enough to be grandparents proclaimed the day as a vacation within the vacation. We would follow no agenda. Instead, we would have a “make-it-up-as-we-wake-up-day.”
In the fresh sunlight, I opened a book of poems and began to read at random. The poet had been in the last years of his long life when he wrote the collection. Some of his inflated diction challenged me, and I soon became tired of his suggestions of despair and doom. Perhaps the poet had listened to a depressed muse. To think through his pessimistic vision would take more effort than I wanted to devote on the book’s pages. This was a vacation, after all. Give me something light-hearted, something that didn’t require so much thinking.
I considered flinging the book into the waters, but I didn’t want harsh winds to carry it to Britain. What if the Queen spotted it as she took a stroll along a beach and someone rescued it from the water and presented her its soaked pages? This wouldn’t be a proper greeting for a lady celebrating her birthday.
I wondered if she were getting tired of all the hoopla. Could she keep up with the pace of the young Royals? Celebrating a birthday for a single day can be tiring. A series of celebrations can completely wear one out.
Perhaps it would be good for her to do what my wife and I had decided to do: take a day off and proclaim it a “make-it-up-as-you-wake-up-day.”