Thursday, July 5, 2012

Snapshots from Beach Week

Of course I don't want to be one of those people who bores others with their vacation pictures.

Instead, I'll use my weapon of choice and bore you with some vacation stories.

Sunday: Driving down caravan style, we eventually stop at a small produce stand to procure the essentials of beach produce, namely watermelon, corn and shelled butter beans.

Waiting for the rest of the wagon train to catch up, I take shade by sitting on a swing hung from a tree.

It's a flat piece of wood long ago painted white and strung up with rope which is then wrapped around a sizable branch.

In other words, it's a rustic, old fashioned swing completely unlike the variety found on mother approved swingsets.

The best part is the give; the rope and branch mean that every pump of my legs, every arch of my back makes the swing react with my weight and action.

I would guess it's the difference between a wooden roller coaster and a metal one.

It feels like the way swings felt when I was a kid: exhilarating and just a little risky.

Monday: The day starts with thick sliced bacon and pancakes.

Out on the beach, the water is sixty eight degrees and I'm reading Suzan Lori Parks' Pulitzer Prize winning "Getting Mother's Body."

Despite multiple umbrellas, a hat and SPF 70, by the end of the first full day I have burnt my chest and am teased about it by the group.

All derision is forgotten when I have my first outdoor shower of the week, the sky so blue above the wooden boards of the shower's roof.

The day ends with birthday Temperanillo, described by the giver as "not a trivial wine," and an exquisite moonrise, almost translucent until it is high in the night sky.

Tuesday: At breakfast, we hear tales of 4 a.m.planet sightings, but most of us were sound asleep and missed it.

A strong breeze off the land has taken the water temperature even higher into the low 70s and I'm now reading "The Italians," a mid-sixties survey about the Italian people, their history and their attitudes.

Cliff Notes version: move slow, can't be faithful (even when in love) and prefer gestures to words.

Now I know.

A walk less than a mile down the beach puts us at Ocean Boulevard for dinner and wine.

Walking out afterwards, we hear a singer doing "Hallelujah," on the restaurant's patio and I lean on the brick wall to listen to it all.

Just the evening before, that song had been the topic of a roundtable (picnic table, that is) discussion of Leonard Cohen.

What are the chances we'd walk out and hear it being sung tonight, I wonder aloud.

"When I'm with you," my companion says, "About one in two."

Damn fine odds, I think.

We greet Wednesday by getting up at 4:30 to see Venus and Jupiter shining brightly over the horizon.
It's a beautiful thing to witness and others have also wandered from their bedrooms to check it out.

It's a pre-dawn meeting of astronomy enthusiasts. We all return to bed and sleep as if we'd never awakened.

Sunrise brings the day visitors for the holiday.

The water is now up to 74 degrees and so calm it resembles a giant blue/green swimming pool.

For our Independence Day dinner, we go traditional.

During a lunch stop at the Weeping Radish Brewpub on the way down, we'd bought some of the German butcher's signature hot dogs.

We pair the foot longs with corn on the cob, watermelon, fruit salad and butter beans.

We postpone dessert for a walk on the Nature Conservancy's Sweetgum Trail, a hike through a maritime forest.

Until you've gone from pine forest to high sand dune, you can't fully appreciate the juxtaposition of pine needles and fine sand footpaths.

Seeing a red fox shoot through the underbrush is an unexpected pleasure, as is the box turtle in the middle of the trail as we round a bend.

A stop for ice cream (mint chocolate chip over dark chocolate orange) is our reward for the two and a half mile trek.

Back at our little house on the ocean, we take wine and chairs out back to watch fireworks from every direction.

"Sky rockets in flight," one of us sings.

Afternoon delight, indeed, despite the fact that it's nearing long past noon.

The moon is slow to make an appearance tonight, finally showing itself as a red ball low over the horizon.

With infinite slowness, perhaps so as not be a distraction from the explosions in the sky, the red ball rises, turns orange and begin to cast a golden reflection on the ocean.

 It's a full two hours later than the moon rose the night before and we have no idea why.

Nearby, one of us is paying his guitar on the beach and another is singing along to old REM songs.

"Driver 8," "Gardening at Night," even "Talk About the Passion."

Yes, let me talk about my passion for spending my days in a bathing suit walking the beach or under an umbrella reading books or floating in the ocean with barely any breakers to disturb the gentle movements of the raft.

And if you think that's boring, you should see what I left out.