Aug 16, 2010

An Hour at the Beach

Aug. 16 -- 8:48 a.m.
I hadn't heard the swoosh-splash of the waves; stared hypnotically at the horizon – filled with hope and prayers, trying to see beyond; felt the sun and salt marinating my skin; breathed in the rich-sweet sand malt and tasted it on my tongue, since last August. Scheduled to return to work in three days, I needed some ocean. So for a couple of hours on Saturday, I stole away from a family gathering and went to the beach.

My Uncle Danny lives in Harbeson, Delaware, six miles from Rehoboth. For the second year in a row, he invited all the family up for a cookout in his big, unfenced back yard. After driving the two hours to Delaware, catching up with aunts, uncles, and cousins, and eating a hot dog appetizer followed by a plate full of all-things-cookout, I couldn't just sit around and ignore the beach. Just six miles. So I recruited three cousins, and we headed southeast to the water.

We hopped off the cool and convenient shuttle bus, and there it was: beach. Thousands of people of every color, size, and shape jumping into or dodging the relentless and animated waves. Wide blue sky. Warm sun. Shrieking children, over-the-top excited, dashing around like battery-powered toys. Boat-sized umbrellas shading paperback readers. Boardwalkers indulging themselves with cotton candy, pizza, fries. Beach bodies, some beautiful, some not so much, some ... just odd.

"This is the perfect beach day!" I must have said a hundred times. I took off my shoes and pushed my feet into the sand, which was perfectly moist, not too dry, not too hot, not too cool. The water wrapped around my ankles fluidly and lingered for a moment, as if making sure I wouldn't forget her touch (a quickie). We meandered on the edge of the water, went down the boardwalk, strolled down the sidewalk looking into shop windows, sat for a minute and people-watched, and then hit the boardwalk again headed in the other direction. I had a chocolate/vanilla twist soft ice cream cone that was so satisfying it is my new standard. Sorry Rita's.

I am reminded that it doesn't always take a lot of planning to make a great moment.
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