After reading A Gift From the Sea many years ago I have not walked on the sands of a beach, listened to the cacophony of squawking seagulls or felt the cooling ocean breeze caress my face without also feeling humbled by the vastness of the waters, buoyed by the calm lapping of the waves and warmed by the sun from skin to soul.
A trip to the beach is spiritual, primal and restorative. No better place for a vacation exists.
A beach holiday has been a priority for Pat and me for most of our married life—going on 35 years. We’ve enjoyed those trips with our children, now with our grandchildren, with friends, and on rare occasions just the two of us. We’ve splashed in the waves, built sand castles, dug holes, watched for dolphins and admired majestic sail boats—and imagined living in a small bungalow with an ocean view.
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We just got back. We still have sand in our shoes, sunburned skin ready to peel, and a truck badly in need of washing.
It was a great trip. I fished with my two oldest grandsons and son-in-law, played in the sand with my youngest, marveled at what a wonderful mother my daughter is, drove a go-kart for probably the last time ever or until they improve the suspension, ate some succulent seafood, watched storm clouds build on the horizon as flashes of lightning added to the display, endured two trips to an arcade, toured an old fort, and sat under an umbrella with Pat for hours watching the waves, reading, napping and enjoying her company. Honestly, that’s one of the things I most enjoy about a week at the beach.
The older boys and I bobbed in the surf. The water was cool enough to chill down after sitting in the sun for a while—not goosebump cold or bathtub warm. The waters of the Gulf were clear enough to see the bottom as far out as we cared to go, and we watched fish dart in and away, chasing smaller fish or fleeing from larger ones.
The boys and I talked about stuff as we waded in the surf—baseball, school, fishing, no discussion of girls yet; I’m not ready for that.
I ate animal crackers that my youngest grandson fed me—some were already soggy, but he enjoyed the process. He brought two books with him and we read those to him—over and over and enjoyed every page. I am beyond joyful that he’s learning the wonder of books.
It doesn’t take long to spend a week at the beach. Saturday afternoon check-in quickly melts into Saturday morning pack-up and a long drive home and back to work.
I have a few good photos of Aaron, Hunter and Walker, Pat, Stacey and Paul, as well as a spectacular rainbow, a colorful sunset, some sea oats and boys in go-karts. We also have some new images filed away in the “at the beach” section of our memory banks.
Sun and sand and family, a bit of calm and restoration—gifts from the sea.