Monday, June 18, 2012

Beach Fundamentals

I took my first all day trip of the season out to the local beach the other day.

It was a great day, except for the guy trying to dunk me in butter on the way out….

Think about it….

It’ll come to you….


First beach days have a bit of a learning curve thing attached to them.

You wouldn’t think it was a big deal, but it’s been about 8 months, so things have to be re-learned.

Like remembering to put on your bathing suit.

Locate your beach permit.

Pack your iPod.

Find your lunch cooler.

Pack your lunch cooler.

Find your lunch.

Dig out the Coppertone # 4 that you’ve been nursing for the last 20 years.

Not to mention towels, chairs, umbrellas, hats…

And finally, figuring out that your bathing suit is the one that doesn’t have a top.

But that’s an easy one cuz the guy in the parking booth usually can’t hide his smirk.

Once the car—the brand new car— is neatly settled in the furthest space in the furthest corner of the lot, safe from wayward beach chairs and coolers, I saunter up to the gate, present my beach card to the same semi-polite, off from college girl, working her way through yet another summer—still reading the same book about thoughtful vampires—who wraps another one of those ridiculous neon wrist bands around my wrist…again, for yet another season.

I step onto the sand, breathe in the salt air and make my way up the beach past the life guard shack, past familiar faces, already tanned, until finally I settle onto my own personal patch of water front property, staked and claimed more than a few decades ago.

The first thing I do is to remove the ridiculous wristband so as not to mar my impending perfect tan. I’m a beach anarchist that way…what can I say.

Don’t tread on my tan line is my motto.

Again, being the first beaching day of the season, it takes me a while to re-work my routine, one that I’ve repeated countless times.

Yet, every year is a new year, and who knows, maybe this year I’ll use the blue towel instead of the green to cover my chair…or dare I say it…maybe even switch to the monkey towel.

So you can see why this is a process.

In the end I stick with what’s worked in the past.  Why fix what’s not broke, I say.

I may be a beach anarchist, but I’m not crazy.

Sitting back now, I scan the shore line and notice that the row of break rocks that separate the two beaches seems a bit off this year. While it may not seem like a big thing to you, it’s a little unsettling in a place that’s been essentially frozen in time for most of my life.

Oh wait…I see what it is…they added a “Please” to the “Keep off the Rocks” sign.

I guess I can live with that….or at least try to avoid looking in that direction.

Another, less disturbing, change, I notice, is that the woman with the furry toes, who wanders up and down the beach all day, is singing a different Village People song this year.

She’s switched from the comfortable strains of “YMCA” to the more controversial “In the Navy”.

Who am I kidding; this is even worse than the added “Please”.

So I pop in my earplugs and put my own brand of music on shuffle and settle back to begin another summer of sun soaking.

But again, something’s off.  I apparently screwed something up when I was syncing my iPod and erased everything but my podcasts of “Garrison Keillor Sings Songs of Lutheran Inspiration”…all 50 volumes.

Not that I have anything against Garrison Keillor or songs of Lutheran Inspiration, it just wasn’t what I was expecting.  I usually start my summer off with “Don Rickles Does Dinosaurs.”

Yeah…I know.

So there’s only one thing left to do…take my traditional first dip in the Sound, which, while still a bit on the chilly side, at least for my taste, I know will be exactly the same as I left it last year.

But wait…something’s off here as well. The horseshoe crab that usually habitats the spot just to the left of the floating seaweed is missing.

The horseshoe crab that usually habitats the spot just to the left of the floating seaweed is never missing….

Oh but wait…I see what’s wrong.

The horseshoe crab that usually habitats the spot just to the left of the floating seaweed isn’t missing at all.

I just walked into the water a bit to the right of the starfish that sits in the puddle, next to the one armed crab, during low tide.  I just had to slide over about five feet and there he was.


Like I said, first day at the beach is a bit of a learning curve no matter how many times you go through them.

Luckily it’s a long summer and things seem to always find their way back to normal.

It’s how summers are meant to be.

Don’t worry…be happy.

Searching for my lost shaker of salt….


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  1. Now I wish I was stretched out on a beach towel, emblazoned with a monkey or otherwise, reading a good book or listening to favorite tunes ... you paint a wonderful picture of a day at the beach. We don't have any beaches around these parts - you have to travel far and wide to find one. I remember fondly our family's excursions to Holiday Beach in Amherstburg, Canada every long weekend - in fact I just wrote about it in a recent blog. Glad you sold enough books to buy your beach card, even if you discarded the neon wristband. Better work on that tan before you meet up with your family in Ireland ... they'll think you jetted off to some exotic island. Cheers.

    1. I couldn't live without a beach nearby...
      Wait...I though I was jetting onto some exotic Island....

    2. We spent the Great Depression years on the beach. It was great fun, and didn't cost a thing. I am paying now because of those spectacular sunburns which I was so proud to show off. It seems odd to think about it now -- but no one seemed to be in charge of us that summer when we roamed the beach, climbing the rocks and cliffs of Hull. Jocelyn knew by name all the vendors lining the beach. They had all gone to higher ground the day we went swimming during a thunder and lightning storm. It was exciting to be alone in the pouring rain, and swimming in the dark water while shafts of lightning darted toward us, accompanied by loud bursts of thunder. We survived, unaware until much later how lucky we were.

    3. Wow...that sounds like the opening to a great novel...ala, Anne River Siddons. I see you can paint with words as well...


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