The incessant roar of waves permeated everything, except for the occasional blast of October wind through the row of houses. Tendrils of sand blew unceasingly down the beach, past the imperturbable groups of seagulls who searched the sand for anything edible — or at least interesting. So too, the scattered human beachgoers braved the wind on their own personal quests for the odd shell, curious bit of flotsam or just plain adventure.
The freezing water deterred most from entering the waves, except for a hardy few who, with shorts, rolled up trousers or knee-hi boots, braved the shallows. A group of teens played tag with the waves, enjoying their losses and the resulting soakings more than their successes. Two five-year-old girls, under (one presumes) parental guidance, stripped to their underpants and dashed into the waves, shrieking at the shock of the icy water then retreating blue and shivering — only to do it again moments later.
From our perch on the dune above the beach we watched the ebb and flow of the sea and the pulse of people moving up and down the shore. Their dogs roamed freely or leashed, but always ran with unbridled joy across the sands — lots of chasing, jumping and sniffing; occasional digging and intermittently, fetching forays into the waves. The dogs expressed little interest in people, as there were much more interesting smells to be had in the sand.
Gulls and other birds followed an invisible path through the air above the beach, only occasionally stopping for something interesting that lured them down. If undisturbed, they gathered in groups to gossip or talk politics or just generally horse around — not unlike their human counterparts. They all stopped to notice when the bald eagle soared overhead on his routine inspection.
Between the top of the dune and the beach is a slope covered with a dense thicket serving to stabilize the dune. Sandy paths and sometimes weathered wooden stairs periodically snaked through the blind, providing beach access from the house’s decks, patios and yards. Our place had a row of Adirondack chairs positioned to view the length of the beach and the sea stack rocks that dot the immediate offshore area. The sea side of the house featured a glass walled two-story room that brought the ocean and beach nearly into our laps.
The rain that threatened for days finally arrived in gusts and drizzles, dampening our enthusiasm (and everything else!) for adventures outdoors. Although the temperature consistently hovered in the 50s, the hardy few on the beach bundled up as for winter, and a young girl half-heartedly attempted to control her umbrella in the wind. The ever-present dogs seemed unaffected, perhaps even energized, by the rain. Unimpressed, gulls looked at us as if to say, “What did you expect at the ocean?”
A rainy ending to our days in the sun was probably appropriate. The ocean’s mysteries remain unsolved. But I learned a bit about my current self. I enjoy watching the waves and the people on the beach but don’t feel the need to be out there as much as I once did. Beaching has become a more passive sport for me.
I also know with certainty that there is no way I’m going to strip down to my undies and leap into the waves!