There’s a little beach near my childhood home on the south shore. It’s not the only beach in town. There’s a much bigger beach about a mile away but it sometimes gets crowded and windy, and you are surrounded by lots of people making lots of joyous noise in the summer sun.
My little beach is a sweet, more secluded spot where the sand takes up only a few hundred yards (more at low tide) and where 12 families on the beach at once is enough.
Since I was a child, I have gone there with my mom & sister, cousins, friends, babysitter – whoever would go with me. Somewhere between low and high tide was the ideal time to go because we had enough dry sand for towels, enough wet sand for drip-castles, and space for cool shell & rock discoveries. Also we were guaranteed fairly warm water in which to swim; important because there was a small wooden dock secured a ways out that served as the prize destination after we showed off our crawl strokes in a race to the float.
Once on the dock, we’d lie on the wet but warm old wood and catch our breath. As I think of these days, of these moments of bliss, I take a full and deep breath, and gently exhale. Taking a break on the dock after a good swim, smelling the salty ocean air, and feeling a soft August wind slowly dry my skin—was the best feeling in the world to me.
I was free, happy, healthy, and light of heart and of spirit!
As I got older, and busier with summer jobs or travel, I forgot about the beach. Maybe every other summer or so I’d visit by myself for a few hours to feed my hungry soul. But I always wanted to stay longer.
Now I have a family of my own, and it’s such a special pleasure to share this place with them. Last weekend I was there with my little girl. Under the shade of a small tree, I sat and watched her explore the beach with my mother, collecting odd stones and seashells—clam, scallop, mussel, razor, and oyster---all still there, half hidden, only to be found by little hands. Nothing had really changed in 25 years. I was comforted and relieved and delighted that my daughter could enjoy this place just as I did. When she gets older, we shall swim to the dock together…
We three shared some grapes and a ripe peach on our towel, then mom and granddaughter went back to their search for an ancient horseshoe crab. I took a swim in the cool water. I felt the course sand and rocks smooth the dry skin on my feet. After, I gingerly trotted over the little snails and bits of old shells to get to my towel. I shook off the sand and sat down. There’s that deep breath and exhale again, here’s the freedom, I thought. And it’s as good as it was then, BUT now I appreciate it so much more!