Golden Coconut Winner - 2012

Sam’s Migration

Sunshine shimmered across the water, bringing a welcome warmth as Sam glided to the surface.  His whiskers twitched as the smells and sounds of his favorite summer playground washed across his senses.

He drank in the familiar voices rippling across the current. Sam had encountered this strange phlock before, during his first migration just a few short seasons ago. He had come across larger phlocks in his travels, but this one was special. They had a drive and dedication that reflected well on their kind.

They were a colorful bunch to be sure and returned to this same spot time and time again. And for some reason, the area always seemed a better place after their leaving.

Clean. Renewed.

But the very best thing about this phlock was the tales its members shared as they waded into the tall grass and fanned out across the highway. It sounded like they put the phun in phund-raising.

Many of their stories centered around a favorite uncle named Jimmy, who apparently could sing.  Jimmy did this and Jimmy did that. Sam thought that this fella seemed pretty okay to him. He worked hard and tried to inspire others to leave this big round ball a better place.  He reminded Sam of his own Uncle Bubba, who shared a similar state of mind. He wondered if the two had ever met.

Before the day was out, the phlock’s tall tales would inevitably turn to food, a topic that made Sam drool.

Now, he wasn't exactly sure what a chili cook-off was, but it sounded like something he'd enjoy. Everyone in the phlock certainly had. Not to mention how excited they were to raise money for a fire department that watched over and protected a salty piece of land Sam considered another personal favorite--a place to frolic and be free.

But chili wasn't the only thing on this phlock's menu. Talk of the flavorful cheeseburgers members had served during a Relay For Life gathering made Sam wish, for just a moment, that he wasn't herbivorous. They sounded like paradise.  All their chatter about food prodded Sam's own appetite. He sank beneath the surface and glided away in search of a mid-morning snack.

His thoughts drifted as well, to a conversation the phlock had during its last visit.

They had apparently just wrapped up a big season and were phluffing their pheathers. Community service hours had nearly tripled and trash collections from their monthly clean-up project had almost doubled as well. Sam himself weighed in at a comfortable 900 pounds. He knew other manatees who tipped the scales at 1,500. But 2,100 pounds of trash? That was a number even a creature his size could respect. No wonder his playground always looked so inviting after the phlock worked their magic.

A few more sweeps through the warm water and Sam's appetite was satisfied. For now. He was eager to return to the surface and hear more.

Well, it sounded like the phlock had grown since the last time Sam came this way. His math was a little fuzzy, but a 44 percent jump in membership sounded good to him.

What else? Oh yes. A visit from a traveling troubadour had sent the phlock into a Frinzi. More money was raised for another worthy cause. Sam knew the good works of Special Olympics and approved the phlock's efforts.

Speaking of worthy causes, it seems the phlock had also gathered to support the American Cancer Society. As the sun climbed higher into the sky, Sam wished he had one of the (non-alcoholic obviously) margaritas they had served at their Tiki Bar. Hmmm...where had he put that shaker of salt? And where had the phlock displayed the award those margaritas had earned them?

As talk of the Tiki Bar and a menu of chili dogs and chili cheese fries swirled around him, Sam thought for a moment about the number of laps the phlock's parakeets had walked during Relay. Although he could travel up to 45 miles on a good day, five and a half miles still seemed like a pretty good distance for a couple of parakeets to cover. He bet their flippers were sore at the end of the night.

More good news. The phlock won second place in a tournament benefiting the Boys & Girls Club. Sam was glad to know there was a safe place for kids to go. And even happier to realize that his phlock, which is how he had come to view these wild and wonderful creatures, had fielded not one, but two teams at the event. There's nothing like just a few friends coming together.

The phlock’s leader--they all called her “Capt’n,” but Sam thought she was really a hula girl at heart--was eager to share plans about the new adventures in store for the coming months. A big parade with a colorful float that was always a crowd favorite. What would the theme be this year? Another day at the beach? Or would pirates take over? What's that about a parrot tagging along?

Sam was sorry he wouldn't be here to find out. But he was sure he would hear about it down the line. That old coconut telegraph hadn't let him down yet.

Sounded like the phlock was going to get saucy at another upcoming festival. Some of the phlock evidently liked their BBQ with a kick to it, while others preferred a sweet and savory taste. Either way, more funds were to be made that would support a Christmas Toy Drive. Last year's drive had been a resounding success and Sam could just picture the excitement on the children's faces when boxes of presents arrived at their doors this year.

Yes, Virginia, Sam thought, there is a Santa Claus and he has sand between his toes

All too soon the phlock was ready to leave Sam's little corner of the world and he was sorry to see them go. But he knew they would be back, and as he turned to swim out and meet the other members of his herd, he thought, "I think they have a good life, all the way."

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