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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Hotel/Motel (09/12/05)

TITLE: A Diamond in the Rough


It wasn't a plush five star hotel or even a basic drive-in motel. It was Mrs. Martin's beach house or better known as Skunk Martin's place. We came upon it by chance, thumbing through material sent to us from a quaint New England town. We picked the place, sight unseen, because we could afford the low weekly rent. It was our first family vacation and we had no idea that this unpretentious "diamond in the rough" would be our precious summer escape for the next twenty years or so.

The first time I met Mrs. Martin was after a six hour drive from our home town, in a car filled with tired and hungry children, two just as beat, worn out parents, a lively black lab and a mass of luggage, linens and everything else needed for a weeks stay in a housekeeping rental. We all tumbled out of the vehicle, not knowing what to expect, when we eyed the house that was as somber looking as the chocolate brown shingles that covered it. Before we could share our puzzlement, a matronly woman with a twinkle in her eyes appeared on the scene and introduced herself as Mrs. Martin, and that was what she was called from then on. Her pleasant face was bronzed from the sun and lined with furrows from the sea and the salt air. Her warm smile lit up her whole countenance and slowly melted away our stiff formalities and unsaid apprehension. We were introduced to Skunk Martin, who was named such because of his love for hunting and some infamous happening which was left unsaid but appropriately dubbed him with that nickname. Jack, their basset hound was the major player in their lives as they were childless.

Skunk Martin faded into the background as Mrs. Martin took over and invited us into the apartment that sat above their two rooms in the lower level. We were introduced to what would be our living quarters for the next seven days. The lack of light in the four rooms hid the added darkness of the worn linoleum and dark stained pine walls. The kitchen was so small that it only had room for a porcelain sink and an apartment sized four burner stove. Two smaller bedrooms and one bathroom hugged alongside a larger room that held, amongst other things, the refrigerator which boasted the manufacturer's name of a bygone era, and had to be manually defrosted each week.

The blessing of this dismal place was an extension that jutted out from the back of the house and stood high above the ground. The view from this vantage point was breathtaking and seeing it, I knew immediately, that we had selected the right rental. For below us was a pathway that wound itself through a salt marsh and meandered across a footbridge that led to a sandy beach and the majesty of the Atlantic Ocean. It was there that we spent hours walking and swimming and enjoying the sights of lobstermen working their traps and an occasional whale breaching, off in the distance.

The paradox of this summer rental was the persona of Mrs. Martin, a woman who appeared to have so little, and yet was so rich. Summer after summer she amazed me with her ability to live within the realm of basic necessities and be content. She blossomed by refusing to carry the heavy weight of materialism and instead continued to bloom in a life filled with spiritual riches. We came from different religious backgrounds but loved and worshiped the same Savior. She basked in the beauty of nature and taught me the habits of sea birds and sea life and the importance of ecology. She cared for wild and domestic birds and animals just as carefully as she cared for two blind people, who came yearly, after we left and enjoyed their vacation free of charge. She volunteered at a shelter and the local hospital. She told stories of her earlier career as a registered nurse in the armed forces during WWII. Knowing her left one feeling better about life.

Each time we waved goodbye to the beach house we knew that we had experienced something as precious as a "diamond in the rough".

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This article has been read 971 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Donnah Cole09/19/05
Ooooh - you've made me want to go there, and not only because of your descriptions but also because of the simplicity of life demonstrated by Ms. Martin. Thanks for sharing!
Shannon Redmon09/20/05
The true riches lie in the people we meet! Good story!
Jan Ackerson 09/21/05
I'd love to see this expanded with some rustic dialog by Mrs. and Skunk Martin. Very charming.
Marilyn Schnepp 11/22/05
You made my day today, by graciously leaving me a critique on my "baby arrival story minus the Stork" - so, I had to look up something you wrote; and I found this one. Lovely story, and you're an excellent story teller; same age, and same desire to write a book of memoirs of life...I had to read you. Thanks for making my day, and laughing at my feeble attempt to tell it like it is.