By Liz, packing a cooler, umbrella and some beach towels!
I’m on vacation this week, which means I’m in beach mode. I’ve always been a beach bum – I love the sound of the waves, the feel of the sand, the seagulls, the startling cold of the water the first time I’m brave enough to jump in. I love boogie boarding and sacking out in a chair with a good book and some snacks. I also love the beach at sunset, when everyone’s clearing out and we can sneak the dogs in for a quick swim.
The beach has been a huge part of my life ever since I was a kid. I remember waking up on sunny summer days, hopeful that my mother would utter the magic words: “Get your bathing suit on!” On those days, we’d pack the cooler super early and head out to Salisbury Beach, about a twenty-minute drive from our house in Methuen. My mother had a friend named Mrs. Margraff, who let us park at her waterfront house and claim a spot on “her” beach. I don’t think I ever met Mrs. Margraff, but she was one of my favorite people ever for opening her magical beach house to us.
I have so many memories of those days that return every time I hit the sand: the anticipation of climbing up the walkway toward the dunes, knowing that once I reached the top of the sand the miles and miles of ocean would take my breath away; the friends I made; the hours of swimming turning my fingers into wrinkly prunes. As I got older, the memories changed – “cruising” the Hampton Beach strip with high school pals, volleyball on the beach with friends, stolen Saturdays when I’d sneak away alone with a pile of books to keep me company on the sand.
I still try to go as often as I can. Living in Connecticut, I haven’t been able to embrace the beaches here. The Sound is beautiful, but I need waves. Rhode Island has some beautiful beaches, and it also has the Cliff Walk – one of my favorite places of all times. It’s a path built into the cliff above the ocean, behind some of the famed Newport mansions. It’s seen some erosion over time, but it’s still one of the most amazing places on earth.
I’m also lucky enough once a year to visit Old Orchard Beach in Maine, when the Wickeds gather on our yearly retreat at Jessie’s. I’m so grateful to her for opening her doors and for giving me another view of the ocean.
There’s just something about the beach, no matter what time of day or time of year. It’s soul-renewing, it’s inspiring, it’s grounding. It’s the place I can always go to find answers and know they’ll be there, if I just wait long enough.
Readers, what’s your happy place?