October is one of our favorite times to enjoy the beach. There’s something restorative, healing, and inspirational about simply being at the seashore. We’re not sunbathers so an overcast day was a blessing to us. One day we rented three chairs and established our home base from which we could take walks, wade in the edge of the lacy waves, and hunt for the seashell that could not be left behind.
We watched families having a good time digging in the sand, flying a kite, taking a few daring swims in the cool water. There were walkers who were intent on exercise and strollers out to absorb the majesty and greatness of the ocean. Some of the walkers had ear bauds and I guess were enjoying their music more than hearing the rhythms of the sea. Maybe they lived nearby in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina and were so used to the sand and the sea that it would be boring to walk without some entertainment. I can’t imagine that!
Walkers with dogs strolled or ran by. It’s always interesting to see how owners and dogs have similarities. For instance, a girl with long swinging blonde hair was accompanied by a fluffy haired golden retriever, a large muscular man kept pace with a hefty bulldog. But then there were the unmatched owners and dogs eliciting a giggle from one or other of us (after they passed, of course!). Those would be a giant guy with macho tank top trying o keep up with a dainty teacup poodle or a gray haired petite lady running to stay in step with a St. Bernard, her hand at waist level lightly touching his back as they went.
Since we were so interested in the people who walked and played on the beach, I can only think that others might have watched us at times. Here was Charles fully clad in long pants and button collar shirt taking time to do some crazy form of two-step and bow low as we passed a group of beach sitters. Here I came barefoot and in my swimsuit (a very decent one!) plodding along and using my trusty walking cane to dislodge seashells I might want to claim. And thirdly, Charles’ sister Revonda walked gracefully along in her suit and bare feet. Usually she was in front taking in the whole scene, hunting shells, and feeling the ocean breeze in her beautiful silvery hair.
We were all three reading when Charles got up to take one of his frequent strolls down the beach. When he appeared again he was carrying a bag from which he pulled three orders of hot crisp nachos and cheese. Nothing ever tasted any better than that treat on the beach! We watched the waves roll in as we munched and refrained from feeding seagulls that came close to eye us with jealousy.
There weren’t many children around that day. It wasn’t a school holiday for most. But the ones who were there were certainly having a good time. One father with two or three children made a sand monster so real it almost took off towards the water. That family reminded me of our Will who has always taken opportunities to build forts and castles with his children. Then there was a family flying a kite, members taking turns being the kite flyer and retriever when it plummeted sandward. One group built a small volcano-looking production and left it with a shell on top like a cap. We admired it since it was right in front of us, between us and the sea. The funny thing about that volcano was that a perky little Jack Russell came along and hoisted his leg, carefully marking that very sculpture, then frisked on down the beach behind his owner. Oh, the brevity of success!
I finally found the shell for the day, a perfectly formed shell with ridges on the outside, a pinkish gray interior. It was rough around the edges from its terrible tumble in the sea, from grating across sand and maybe being tossed in a storm. It probably could hold about one fourth cup of water. It easily fits in my hand where I can rub it and feel a connection somehow to the vastness of the ocean and to the Creator Who made the sea and the tiny creatures.
Scenes to remember from our gray day on the beach: blue-gray water disturbed by zillions of whitecaps and stretching all the way to a pearl gray sky; boats of various descriptions plying their way across the whitecaps; fishermen with poles secured upright as they sat back smoking while they waited for the lines to go taut; a mama with two small children introducing them to the water; a brave swimmer striking out as if to reach Ireland but heading ashore in five minutes; great waves forever rolling in, splashing white on the shore and sucking the sand as they simmered down in time for the next one to crash; the pearly smooth wet surface of sand reflecting the sky as a wave recedes; the expanse of beach between the waves and the dunes held secure by the gentle strength of sea oats.
As we enjoyed our day on the beach I kept thinking of lines from Lord Byron’s “Childe Harold”: Roll on, thou deep blue ocean roll. Ten thousand fleets sweep over thee in vain; Man marks the shore with ruin, his control stops with the shore.
Unfortunately, man is now marking the ocean with plastic and oil. But, ultimately, God will make it all new.
As we gathered our things and headed back to our rooms, I looked once more across the sea. The sun was trying to break through the clouds making a bright path of light across the water.