MY DESTINY Relocation is a primary cause for depression and stress. I was ignorant of the consequences of making this choice. A few years ago my husband accepted an offer to a position in another state. I moved from my middle America city, my family, home, teaching assignment and good friends for life in a metropolitan city. It was a harrowing experience, an emotionally painful adjustment. It took many years healing this silent disease. In time I acquainted with new friends and was pleased with my new position as an administrator at a suburban hospital and I was settling into my new home. My composure returned and I was feeling balanced. But not for long.....Once again my spouse accepted a position at a very large hospital in another mega metropolis. Past experience alerted me of the consequences of relocation. It was daunting. I searched for relief from this psychological pain... the seashore was always a peaceful place for me. It became my escape from anxiety and indeed my cure. Regrouping, I drove two hours on the parkway to spend a few days at the shore. As I approached my destination I began to unwind. Recalling days of harmony set my steadiness. Memories of summer holidays in a cottage by the sea with my parents and siblings were resurfacing. Placing my toes into soft sand, embracing frothy waves, filled me with nostalgia. I finally approached an exit with a posted sign Cape May New Jersey -- End Of The World. I eagerly exited and entered an amazing wonderland. Cape May a fairy land drenched with bountiful flora and beguiled by the sound and scent of the sea. Jasmine draped upon white picked fences lifted an intoxicating scent into the air. Blossoms brimming in clay pots upon wraparound verandahs were a cordial welcome. Rocking chairs, like soldiers positioned on every porch, shaded by a canopy of tall sycamore trees. The town was an idyllic photo card image; Shangri-la exploding with ambiance. The Visitor’s Center provided historic information of this city. Stepping back in time I learned about this seashore town.Cape May, an oasis lies at the southernmost tip of the New Jersey Coast. The Atlantic Ocean meets the Delaware Bay. The town is strategically located on the Mason Dixon line. Golden sun rise and sets on the same horizon. This thriving fishing village was founded in the mid 1600’s by Dutch immigrants was named for Captain May. In the 1800’s Southern plantation barons sailed North with their families, servants and households to escape the beastly heat of Southern summers. Arriving along the coast by steamboat they settled in Cape May. The new summer residents built extravagant homes for their holiday retreat. For more than 100 years this vacation sanctuary became their harbor. By the turn of the century annual escapes to the Del Marva Peninsula began to wan. Automobile and rail transportation became a favored alternative to steamboat travel. Sadly, Southern gentry did not continue their return to Cape May. The Victorian mansions were abandoned, many buildings were destroyed by fire or storms. The over sized dwellings were unaffordable for the local residents and became white elephants. It was the end of an era. Fortunately fishing trade continued to expanded. The seaport developed into an enterprising industry of great importance to the country. New construction advanced the region, but the stately homes remained uninhabited. Cape May lost it’s luster. In 1970 the Mayor and townspeople of Cape May launched an innovative plan to revive and restore the city to its grandeur. United States Government with first lady, Lady Bird Johnson initiated a program Beautification of America matching every dollar invested for restoration. Refurbishing the Victorian homes became affordable. Local citizens pursued the idea of preserving and restoring the declining homes into Bed and Breakfast Inns. Tourism became the focus of a booming economy. A success story for hundreds of refurbished homes which now accommodate guests from across the country and the world. The entire city of Cape May is certified as the first Victorian City in the United States and designated as a Historic Preservation Landmark.. Prosperity and regal splendor returned. I set out to explore this appealing town. My attention was directed to the petite retreat located two miles south of the city, village of Cape May Point. For more than one hundred years the village was called Sea Grove and continues as the site of Church Refuges and the Cape May Lighthouse. A beacon close to the water’s edge with flashing light has operated since 1853 and is now dedicated as a museum. The Nature Conservancy manages the grounds of Cape May Point State Park and Migratory Bird Refuge. Climbing the spiral staircase one is rewarded with a spectacular, unobstructed view of the coastline. I marveled at this modest village. It was easy to fall in love with this paradise. I was regaining my self-assurance. Entering a peaceful street, PROPERTY FOR SALE piqued my curiosity luring me like a magnet to inspect the site. I learned the property had been in litigation for some time. The owners were deceased and their sons could not arrive at an agreeable decision. The grounds were overgrown and unattended, yet I knew this garden had once been loved. Walking the property again, I knew I would love it too. Sea Grove was not a dream, it was full a life. A cottage by the sea surrounded with beautiful flora and small critters would fill my days with gladness. I stepped onto the red brick path, my decision confirmed. This tranquil place convinced me I belonged here. A mecca in the center of the Nature Conservancy. My destiny. It is where I belong. I was prepared to make an offer.“But you haven’t inspected the house” the realtor gasped. “If it does not suite me, I will fix it ” I replied. The house faces the woods of The Nature Conservancy. A variety of trees give the property character. Framing the entrance are twin holly’s with crisp, spiked leaves that glow like the sheen of Chinese lacquer and red berries that feed the birds, bringing Christmas cheer to my door. A pair of purple plum and crab apple trees are laden with summer fruit squirrels to nibble. Tall cedars shade the west side of the cottage keeping the house cool. A profusion of red bud and pink dogwood frame the windows. Wren houses dot the blossoming branches. A cherished glimpse are wee birds busily feeding their young warmed by the protection of the limbs. Crepe myrtle blooms like ice cream cones. Fragrant climbing roses welcome visitors into the cutting garden and fragrant jasmine, silky as a wedding veil drape a tangle of brambles. The garden is an Impressionist’s painting. This silent promised land has redeemed me. Within a few weeks I became owner of this beautiful land by the sea. A wonderful helper assisted me in the garden and quickly shaped it into orderly fashion. He proved to be an irreplaceable ally. We worked side by side while he patiently taught me what I did not know about planting and nourishing. The cottage borders a bird sanctuary of stately woods. Beyond the arbor the roar of the ocean and golden sand beach have etherial views. I share this peaceful acreage with hundreds of species of birds and Monarch butterflies that fly to this haven from far parts of the world. These migrating birds make their home for the summer in these surroundings. Avian nest and feed at Cape May Point for many weeks, then fly to southern destinations before winter's frost arrives. Fine feathered friends and tens of thousands of monarch butterflies swarm to this magic land pollinating and feeding. End of summer brilliant monarch butterflies alight for the warmth of the Gulf of Mexico sounding like a roaring roller coaster racing across the shore. Incredibly these fragile winged beauties generate stellar energy. I am sad to see them leave, I shall not get another glimpse until next Spring.Torrential rain pummeled shutters and doors. The first significant drench since moving into my beach cottage. Hot cloudless days have dried the grass. Leaves have lost their shimmer and are curling from the drought. Strong west wind has cooled the air and gray clouds hang low in a darkened sky. I am grateful for this shower, glad for the garden that thirsts for rain. Blooms welcome this soak. The parched earth is refreshed. The clamorous torrent has slowed to a quiet drip. Soft light enters the cottage. Sun’s pale glow paints the bare walls warming the room and making it feel safe. I move through the house barefoot upon the smooth, wood floors. The morning light refracts from the window glazing the luster of the polished furnishings. Each room has a unique character like pages of a precious book. It pleases me to have treasures of my parent’s settled into my new surroundings. Their antiquity and silent beauty arouse fond memories of the home where I grew up and provide me with a sense of peace. Alas the silence gives way to the rumble of thunder. Swords of lightening streak across the room and the raging wind bends branches and limbs. I fear for the birds and animals and pray they are safe. storm has subsided. Morning is calm. All god’s creatures are singing. Hundreds of chirping birds straddle telephone and electric wires. A cacophony of music like a symphony. Beneath the deck a family of skunks have finally vacated their quarters. Their station was flooded and now a new home must be found. Glad to have them, glad to have them leave. Rain has washed the dust from the leaves, holly trees are sparkling again. Flowers are inches taller. Shaking the water logged evergreens, I was greeted with a surprise. A baby fawn curled into a ball was peering at me with frightened eyes. A family of deer graze in the field to feed on limabeans dropped from the harvester. Mother and babes have added another dimension to this property. They venture close to my garden, content with the salt lick I provide. Lost in the storm this tiny fawn was fearful and helpless. She was timid but did not jump away as I approached. I left quietly, hopeful her mother would return. Completing some chores, I returned to the the doe under the pine. Baby fawn was still curled into a ball. It was then that I observed her badly bruised leg and telephoned Mac, a naturalist from Audubon just down the road. He arrived quickly and tenderly medicated and bandaged the injury. The fawn cooperated and was very patient. I gave her the name, Patience. Placing some berries and water nearby I left her resting. In the afternoon Patience was standing as proud as a peacock. The food was gone and she eagerly ate the apples I brought. I set a salt lick and a bucket of water and stayed my distance for fear of frightening her. Returning to the cottage I prayed that by morning I would find the fawn improved. Suddenly, a thunderous sound. A clamorous whoosh. Hundreds of snow geese descended upon the beanfield. A splendid sight. Their heads tucked in like huge snowballs as they filled their beaks with limabeans. The snow geese remained for days eating their fill before flying south for the winter. I realized how dependent we are upon each other. When they were gone, I collected lima beans for Patience to nibble as well. Awakening to a brilliant sunrise I biked to the beach praising my fortune to live in this wondrous land. This narrow peninsula hooks out to sea. The golden ball magically rises over dark waters. At end of day reappears and sinks into the Delaware Bay. An awesome sight, not once, but twice every day. Pedaling back to my cottage, I encountered a red fox sauntering down the lane. Distinctive red fur and no larger than a small dog. He seemed so composed. I had mistaken this predator for a stray pet. Fox timidly strolled into the woods and I was glad he took the route away from the baby fawn. I pledged to write these anecdotes into a journal, lest I forget them. I have learned one should not forget especial meaningful experiences, perhaps tucked away but never forgotten.Morning was drenched with humid air. Not a trace of the family of deer. I became concerned and wondered where they were resting since they usually feast on beans that remain after the harvest. Perhaps they were searching the woods for the lost fawn. How desperate the mother must be. Their babe was no longer afraid. She allowed me to get close and stroke her. Her black eyes had beautiful long lashes, like a small pony with a white star on her forehead... gave her a regal appearance. I was growing very fond of her. She could stand, but not walk. I was glad to be supportive and helpful. Hopefully she would be mobile in a few days.I reached home to find another surprise. seated in the garden an unexpected visitor. Sister Catherine staying at the summer residence of the Sisters of Saint Joseph’s Nunnery of Philadelphia. She was enjoying a two week holiday in Cape May Point. “I have ached to enter this mystical place, but never had the brashness. Today I was compelled to stop and take pleasure in it. I am sorry if I have intruded,” she confessed.I assured her she was most welcomed to visit the garden. Following our brief encounter, Sister Catherine became a frequent caller. I believe flowers cultivated our friendship. Evening rain spattered upon the roof like musical notes, an agreeable jangle. Wind the only din heard. I was quite comfortable to be warm and cozy in front of my first fire of the year. Sipping tea on the deck early morning, eureka! Patience’s family prancing in the field. I wanted to run out to them. Mother deer cautiously walked to the salt lick, at that moment Patience managed to stand. Mother deer saw her babe and licked her instead. Her bandaged leg restricted the doe’s mobility. I slowly approached and gently stroked Patience. She had no fear, but mother deer leaped away and watched from a distance. I removed the bandage very carefully. The bruise was healed. Patience was true to her name. She proudly and eagerly followed mother deer. In a moment they were gone. I felt a tug at my heart knowing she would not occupy my garden hereafter. First day of fall, an unusually warm September day. The sound of breaking waves beckoned me to the shore. I gathered my towel a cold drink and walked the path through the woods placing my toes into warm, soft sand fringed with sea foam. Refreshing morning escape. The tide was out as I walked the beach splashing the salt water. As I started for home a huge sea turtle, larger than any I had ever seen angled out of the woods. The turtle’s slow movements would take many minutes before crossing the road. I knew I had to protect this creature from oncoming vehicles. I listened for the sound of a motor prepared to alert each driver. Engine noise propelled me into the road my arms waving like a helicopter. A local landscaper stopped his truck and joined me in the watch. The turtle inched another few feet. I marveled at how unhurried this animal behaved. Carrying a heavy shell he slowly sauntered across. We could learn from critters to take time to enjoy a leisurely pace. Other cars arrived. The turtle had not yet lumbered across. Snapping turtles swim in Lily Lake, they are responsible for the loss of new born signets and goslings each year. The gardener explained. Survival of the fittest. I thought Lily Lake a peaceful, sweet water lake bordered with trees and flora attracting birds, bees, butterflies and a score of large fowl. Families arriving for their summer holidays perch upon wood benches circling the lake to see an aquatic show. Children offer bread and corn to feed the flock. The performers are a trail of swans and signets, geese and goslings, ducks and ducklings leisurely paddling across the lake. Swans mate for life and return each year to beautiful Lily Lake. My Newfoundland joins this menagerie. Webbed feet allows her to swim the length of the lake as fast as her winged friends. She is the leader of the band. Ducks and geese follow in formation. This daily event is a delightful outing for children, guests and residents. Recalling the landscaper’s warning, a snapping turtle is strong enough to lop off my Newfoundland’s paw, convinced me that ocean swims will cool my pet hereafter. Swimming side by side above the waves, I climb on Sara’s back and she paddles me to the shore. Her breed are natural swimmers well trained to save endangered lives at sea. She is the Point’s lifeguard. Sharing our days together on Sea Grove with my faithful, loving pet has made us fast friends. Glancing up I see a Sun Fish diving for his meal, wings catch the blazing light as it zooms away like a shooting star. Days in the sun at the End Of The World, Cape May Point, my destiny.