The Beauty of a Skid Steer

Feeling chipper to be coming out of the chemo-stupor this morning, I ambitiously plan to enjoy an outing with my son, Little H. I load up the back of the car with the jogging stroller, sunscreen, water, and snacks and cruise off on the very short drive to the beach.

After saddling my son and supplies into the jogger - which very rarely sees a jogging pace - I head off down the pier at a moderate jaunt. I'm looking forward to taking in the fresh sea air at the marina.

Wait, what's that smell?  Not fresh, salty air but trash day with a strong undertone of rotting fish. Oh, come on ultra-sensitive, chemo olfactory senses; hold it together. The deep breathing that started as methodical quickly becomes more of an exercise in remaining calm. I keep moving. I will not vomit.
My body tires quickly; after a whopping 20 minutes, I’m scanning for a sandy spot to rest with growing fervor. Having only recently moved here, I don’t know my way around yet and have clearly headed in the wrong direction. Restaurant after harbor after large gated swimming pool after restaurant after hotel and I’m about to plunk my weary, sweating self down right in the center of the sidewalk and encourage my son to use his sand toys on the debris that’s skittering by in the breeze. Where is the beach?!?
And then it arose, right there out of the 78’ swelter, unshackling my son from stroller boredom: a construction zone, a young boy’s oasis.
I happily park myself on the adjacent cement, break-water wall, enjoying partial swaying-palm-tree shade, and dangle my feet right down over the “Do not sit on break wall” sign. Little H’s eyes are transfixed on the small skid steer moving the dirt around the site in front us.
It looks like we’re surveying the site of an upscale restaurant remodel, with the front entrance and landscaping currently being demolished. The area is not very large, the equipment small-scale, and the workmen only numbering in the few. But one is driving a four-wheeled construction vehicle, one is wielding a hose, and a couple are milling about with shovels and wheel-barrels. This is well sufficient to make my child’s – and thereby my - morning a merry one.
I peer down over my shoulder at the water lapping against the marina rocks and watch the crabs scurrying across the surfaces. The seagulls are screeching; the sun is shining. I take a long breath in and fill myself with satisfaction – and air that actually smells like the sea.
I am so pleased to be alive; to have my son; to not be working; to be healthy enough to be out enjoying this very moment.

I turn around to encourage my little one to appreciate the view and realize he already is, in his own way. Across from the sea, the hose water, the dirt, and the machinery is mesmerizing him. Not wanting to sit with my back to him, I turn to also watch the construction progress, only slightly begrudgingly putting the ocean at my back. 
A dump truck pulls in and drops a load of fresh dirt. A jackhammer starts up over in the corner. Not my ideal oasis. But if I look just right, past the unhappy teenager holding the dirt-covered hose, the stream of water he is splaying is creating tiny glimmers of rainbows. The middle-aged man in the driver seat of the skid steer is shaking his head with a good-natured smile as he waits for the boy to move out of his way. The guy with the wheel barrel pauses to put down one handle and raise his arm in a friendly wave at us. 

I guess this is beautiful too.

And isn’t that life? You show up expecting one thing, but get turned in a totally new direction. The choice is only to wallow in anger or bitterness at what you’re missing, or to work at appreciating what is front of you.


  1. Any mom of boys knows all to well how a construction site can save the day!!