Wednesday, July 4, 2007
Vacation Thoughts, part two
When I think of the beach, my internal vision is of this beach: the one in NC where I’ve been coming since childhood. Most summers of my childhood we would rent a beach-front cottage for a week with a family of cousins and hang out, body-surfing in the waves or floating in inner-tubes out beyond the waves, for hours on end. We got blistering burns every year, but it never kept us out of the sun the following year. This was long before the day of SPF 50. The pier where we would take our dripping ice-cream cones, longest pier on the East Coast, is now gone, the victim of one of the more recent hurricanes.
When not swimming or searching for shells or digging in the sand, we played cards and put together jigsaw puzzles. No TV, ipods, DVDs or video games back then. We ate sandy sandwiches for lunch and one night of the week we’d go to Jone’s Seafood Restaurant where every year of my childhood I ordered fried flounder with all the hush puppies I could eat. Which was a fair number. My dad always got the deviled crab or fried oysters.
The beach had no amusement parks, no arcades, no boardwalks, no high-rises. Just ticky-tack cottages, affordable to families like ours, one restaurant, one over-priced grocery store and one putt-putt course. We got to play there on the night we ate out. Now, of course, there are more and bigger of everything, though the beach-front itself remains relatively undeveloped. The houses are bigger and fancier, but still no high-rises.
The strand is wide, with soft sand, the dunes are gentle, with the occasional turtle nest protected by orange tape. The waves are big enough for body surfing, but not too big for toddlers to enjoy. The water is warm enough to go in at 8 a.m. without screaming but not so warm it feels like a bath. I’ve enjoyed the northwest coast and the eastern shore from Jersey to Florida, the southern coast of England and the Northwest coast of Scotland, the Mediterranean, the Caribbean, the Gulf coast from South Padre to Sanibel and, of course, the North Coast where I lived for ten years (that’s Lake Ontario for the uninitiated). But this beach will always be what I think of when someone says, “Let’s go to the beach.”