Friday, July 22, 2016

Summer's Here and the Time is Right

They are commandments, not suggestions ~ god

Puh-leeze. Only heading South would I see such nonsense painted on the side of a truck.

Whoa, big fella, separation of church and commerce, remember?

Once I'd moved on to the easterly portion of the drive, I pulled over at Adam's Country Store for ham sandwiches and a discussion of who does what around the store. The old gent opening my soda tells me Dad used to spend a lot of time when he was supposed to be working sitting on the stool behind the counter, even napping on occasion.

"We said we were going to put a seatbelt on that stool so he wouldn't fall off!" he jokes for what surely must be the hundredth time. Nice work if you can get it, I crack. He pauses, looks at me to let it sink in and laughs out loud, as if I hadn't just said the first thing that came to mind.

"It sure is!" he says with a big grin. All this appreciation for my wit and an RC Cola, too.

So I'm back in Kitty Hawk, four tenths of a mile from my usual house on what is easily the narrowest and therefore most fragile stretch of beach on the Outer Banks.

At high tide, the waves are rolling up under a half dozen houses. When you pull into one nearby house's driveway, all you can see at the end of the carport is ocean. A few years ago, I walked this stretch at high tide one morning after a bad storm and sunk into the sand to my knees. It was terrifying.

But it's enough that I'm at the beach, so I'm certainly not complaining about the width of this particular stretch.

Especially because the ocean looks like the Caribbean, striped uncharacteristically brilliant green and deep blue as far as the eye can see, a line of cumulus clouds stacked along the horizon.

Even better, it's completely clear so when you're in it, you can see crabs and shells on the bottom. Yesterday's water temperature was 74 and today it was 75.

I know these numbers solely from the lifeguard station board, which also informs me of the hormone-driven millennials charged with protecting us from a watery death.

Yesterday's ace team was Cat (complete with a feline face drawing) and Hunter (he of the side ponytail and nose covered in white zinc), while today we got another dose of Hunter, but this time paired with - wait for it - Linsea.

Wow, Lin-sea, really?

If her parents did that to her, they should be charged, but, who knows, maybe her distinctive name set her on a path to make the beach a safer place and who can argue with destiny?

Today's board also carried warnings about "strong shore breaks," which meant that an especially high percentage of people in the water were being knocked down close in, right where the waves were breaking.

I'm not saying it was entertaining, but for those who appreciate physical humor, we did have front row seats to the action.

A nearby man - whether just gawky or frail, it was tough to tell - got clobbered so many times that eventually he became one with the sand and required assistance to pick himself up out of the water.

Because there are seven in our motley crew, when we're not on the beach seven hours a day, we tend to congregate on the L-shaped deck that faces the beach road with a view of the ocean behind it because it's a sprawling space with room for everybody.

We've played Scattegories out there, eaten breakfast out there, spotted the moon on the rise from out there, eventually following it down to the beach to see its shimmering reflection. It was from the porch that we hear Harleys rumbling by and someone doing cannonballs into the pool next door at midnight.

Every morning, from the deep bush-covered backyards around here come the songs of small birds hiding in the shrubbery, an ecosystem completely different from the shoreline one just across the beach road. At night, it's crickets we hear.

There's a rustic outdoor shower and a fish-cleaning table under the house. I've just about finished my first book and I finally evened up the shorts tan I have from months of sunny day walking.

I am in my element and in high goof-off mode. At the beach, there are no commandments, only suggestions.

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