1. Gull feathers, gulls. More than any other bird I know, the gull shows its developmental stages incrementally, and I can never tell who is who, because the plumage on one species may have five different stages. Except the great Blacked-backed Gulls–they have all the plumage variation, but you can’t miss them for size. We’ve seen dainty little terns, a pair of oystercatchers, several flocks of sanderlings flying in formation through the spray of the breakers, and a migrating flock of ten thousand swallows, stopping for a day or two on the dunes to refuel before they fly on. We’ve seen a monarch or two, and I am hoping we just missed the main body of their migration. Sometimes when we’re here for our September days at the beach, we’ve seen several an hour. Last year, the dragonflies were migrating through when we were here, and I lost count of them.
2. Playing on the beach with Christopher Robin and Galileo. Galileo throws himself into the waves, body and mind, commenting on the feel of the force against his body, comparing the difference between a wave that is breaking as it hits him and a wave that has already broken. He pays attention to the feel of the force of the undertow sucking at his feet while the next wave crashes over him. He especially loves when two waves come right at him at different angles and he is caught in the corner between. His attention to the physical and mechanical forces at work only increases his wonder and delight in the experience.
Christopher Robin is all light and air and dream and magic, wanting to stand out in the water as far as he can bear, holding tightly to his dad as the waves crash in, “Hold tighter! Hold tighter!” Or he catches hold of one of us as we stand watching the waves come in, “C’mon! Let’s go-let’s go-let’s go! See this! Look at this!” And my heart is hurting just ever so slightly because I remember that at the end of the Winnie the Pooh books, Christopher Robin leaves the Hunderd Aker Wood, and that small bear is bereft, and I think how probably that small bear was also A. A. Milne himself, and is me. (It is good that I found a job for this fall because I think I would be sort of mopey and sad right now otherwise.)
3. Forts and castles in the sand. The boys spent the day digging their massive holes and setting ramparts about them. The waves took them in a matter of half an hour at the end. Me, I made a many-turreted Gothic cathedral with fine fairy arches. We watched to see what the waves would do at the end. One wave. One wave took it down and left only a vanguard of shivering foam and a garland of bladderwrack, and no sign whatsoever that a castle had stood there moments before. We are all sand castles, perhaps, or words scratched in the sand, here for a moment and then gone in a breath, yet hovering somehow, in the memory of the molecules that made us up. So fleeting and enduring we are.
4. Returning to all our favorite places. This motel and its pool and the the towns here on the 7-Mile-Island are a memory place for the boys, and they remember now from year to year all the things we do. Our trip is truncated to a single weekend this year because I am working, but we’re still able to pack in quite a bit of fun, and several of our favorite eating spots. Take-out from Nemo’s Pizza yesterday (sausage pizza and a fried flounder parmesan sub), supper at Tortilla Flats yesterday (Navajo Tacos with Coconut Butterfly Shrimp, Shrimp and Scallop Fajitas–we skipped the Jersey Tomatoes with Fresh Crabmeat appetizer because the portions here are so enormous), and we’ll have breakfast at Uncle Bill’s Pancake House this morning before we play some more in the ocean or pool, or head back home–depending on our whim.
5. Mentors everywhere. I am so grateful for all the life experience of the people I know, you who have been parents and teachers and farmers and poets and writers and wisher and dreamers, and how you have been willing and gracious to lend a listening ear and a piece of requested advice when I have needed the extra support. Blessings on the mentors.
May we walk in Beauty!