I grew up very close to a beach in Florida. I very vividly remember visits to the beach in different stages of my life. I remember the slathering of spf 1000 every 30 minutes. I remember the excitement of picking out a new swimsuit for every season- Pool swimming suits, boat swimming suits, ocean swimming suits, lake swimming suits, action sports suits. I remember having a swimsuit drawer the way most people amass socks. I also have very fond memories of sand being lodged into crevices that only come clean with a very powerful hose or a long swim in a pool. It’s amazing how something like chaffing really grinds a memory into permanence.
I don’t know if you’re aware of the differences between Washington beaches and Florida beaches. Some things like water temperature and wind differences seem obvious but if you walk on to a Pacific Ocean beach expecting to find sugar sand and colorful umbrellas, you are mistaken. But in a good way. I’ve also come to find out that kids don’t care what color the sand is. They also don’t care what temperature the water is. If you’re wondering how to enjoy the beach, go and spend a couple minutes watching a kid. My daughter is great at enjoying the beach. Every time we go to the ocean, I marvel at the amount of enjoyment she gets from sand and sea.
The change in my Noonie begins almost instantly as we exit the pathway through the dunes. Usually she dives headfirst into the sand and completely covers her arms up to her elbows. Sometimes she switches it up and covers her legs instead. Why? Because it feels great! In the summer, the top layer of dark sand gets warmed by the sun, but just below the surface, there is an untouched chill that just mixes so nicely. There’s never any hesitation about ruining clothes or filling diapers with sand. It’s pure texture. Try it. Bliss.
Sometimes we just sit and cover ourselves in sand, but most of the time we have to make the trek down to the tide. On the way we get to explore. There are shells, crabs, giant kelp, driftwood, crab floats, rope, abandoned forts and half burned campfires. We find at least one sea creature that spikes an impromptu biology lesson. It’s not all about getting down to the water. The journey to the tide is long, but the trip is part of the fun. Sometimes I have to remind myself it’s okay to explore and dawdle. There is no set itinerary at the beach. It’s all time well spent.
Then there is the ocean. I’m not assuming geography is a mystery, but the Pacific Ocean is a really REALLY big ocean. Because it’s so big, the water temperature stays pretty consistant. In the end of summer it slightly warms, and it doesn’t drop in temperature until later in the winter. Fluctuating aside, it’s cold. As I mentioned before, kids don’t care about temperature. There is water, and it needs to be swam. Swum? Swimmed? Whatever. You’ve gotta get in. Go as far as you dare, but it is a prerequisite to stay in until part of your body goes numb. Jx is convinced it has curative properties and uses that as his excuse to go surf fishing as much as possible. I just like to stand where the water laps the sand and try to decipher if the tide is going in or out. I also try not to think about the dark masses swimming below the surface, but I think that might be too much Shark Week. Noonie usually plans to just run in the sea foam, but inevitably she usually winds up on her butt with a sopping wet pullup. All in a day’s work.
I’m glad we have the chance to build beach memories with our kids. It’s also nice to build new ones for myself. Memories and reminders that life is more about how much sand you can get in your pants and not the worry of how you’re ever going to get it out.