Posts Tagged ‘beach’

The beach is not the place to work; to read, write or think. I should have remembered that from other years. Too warm, too damp, too soft for any real mental discipline or sharp flights of spirit. One never learns. Hopefully, one carries down the faded straw bag, lumpy with books, clean paper, long over-due unanswered letters, freshly sharpened pencils, lists and good intentions. The book remains unread, the pencils break their points and the pads rest smooth and unblemished as the cloudless sky. No reading, no writing, no thoughts even–at least, not at first.


Yesterday morning I purchased a new copy of Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh (AML). The book, a beautiful collection of essays, left a very strong impression on me when I first read it sixteen years ago. For some reason I remembered the book last week and was determined to reread it while I was still on Nantucket. So yesterday afternoon as we were off to the beach I placed the book into my beach bag hoping to find enough peace to read a few paragraphs.

I opened the book, read through the introductions and as I began the first essay –  The Beach –  I laughed out loud. The very first paragraph (see above) completely described me. It felt as if AML had read my mind.

Every summer I pack a selection of books I should read – some years they are ambitious classics like Vanity Fair and other years I include education related titles. This year I packed The Academic Achievement Challenge: What Really Works in the Classroom? by Jeanne S. Chall and Einstein Never Used Flash Cards by Kathy Hirsh-Pasek and Roberta Michnick Golinkoff.  These are books I truly want to read, but for some reason the bindings remain as tightly closed as the day I bought the books.

This year I also brought along my plan book in order to type last year’s plans into a digital plan book for this upcoming year. I was excited to work on my digital scrapbooks – I take a lot of photographs. And right before we left I made sure that all our family videos from the last few years were uploaded to my computer so I could make movies. How very ambitious of me. Just like my books, nothing has been touched.

AML brought along paper and pencils. I brought my computer. The tools have changed but the good intentions and the lack of results are the same.

I always plan to accomplish so much while I am here on Nantucket, but my plans are quickly abandoned. Landlocked the other 11 months of the year, I delight in my time on the beach – the beautiful blue skies, the warm sand, the cold water, the briny air.

All five senses are on alert, taking in every aspect of being on the beach.

Then my soul takes a big deep breath and slowly lets it out.

I am rejuvenated.

I am calm.

I am at peace.

There is no need to lose myself in a book because I am present

on this beach

right now.


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They say a picture is worth a thousand words…

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Ode to Cool Whip III

You put the lime in the cocoanut and drink it all up…

I thought I would do a repeat of my first Cool Whip dessert – which was festively red, white & blue – for the Fourth of July, but I decided to try a new twist.

The leftover Lemon Pie from last week was consumed vulture style – kids and adults swooping in to break off bits of graham cracker crust then scooping up the melted lemony fluff.  This gave me the idea to make a Cool Whip dip!  Plus, a dip would be easier and more fun to eat on the beach!

I followed the same basic recipe for the Lemon Pie, except this time I substituted frozen limeade for the lemonade for two reasons.  I couldn’t find yellow lemonade at the Stop & Shop and I wanted something a little bit different from the other night.

I mixed the whole concoction in Tupperware which I could easily close, pop into the freezer for a while, and then transport to the beach for our big Fourth of July celebration.  Since I was assigned s’mores duty I brought an extra box of graham crackers for dipping.  I also cut up fresh strawberries since we have a few wheat-free individuals.

The dip had melted to a perfect consistency – soft enough to scoop up a big blob without it dripping all over your hand.  We experimented as well.  Cape Cod Potato Chips and Frozen Limeade Dip is awesome.  Tortilla chips and Frozen Limeade Dip is not.

A green so pale it is barely distinguishable

Texture so creamy it makes your mouth smile

The lime so sweet with the hint of tart

Successful Cool Whip dessert number three

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Footprints on the beach

Every year my family spends three to four weeks on the island of Nantucket.  My in-laws have a house here and they are more than generous in sharing it with all of us.  If you’ve never been, Nantucket is a small island 30 miles south of Cape Cod, Massachusetts.  With miles and miles of beaches, a quaint town, cobblestone streets, grey houses with white trim, and huge fog banks – Nantucket is an island paradise New England style.

My boys, ages 9 and 11, love spending time here (truth be told we all do).  They walk into town, drink vanilla cokes at the pharmacy lunch counter, stock up on sweets at the candy store, find treasures in the little stores, and play cards in the garden of the Atheneum (somehow I seem to look the other way regarding their sugar intake on this island).
Afternoons are spent at various beaches around the island – each with it’s own special charm.  There’s the south side of the island with it’s big wave beaches.  Early in the season it’s a real treat to see a seal bobbing up and down in the waters.  Yes, the water is that cold and yet we swim – we swim until we can’t feel our extremities anymore.  The north side of the island has warmer temperatures and calmer waters where my older son loves to snorkel.  Yesterday he saw a small shark, 2 squids, various hermit crabs, and schools of minnows.

The compulsion to dig is not one they seem to outgrow.  Shovels have gotten larger and the resulting holes enormous.  The excitement they show when they hit water never fails. I have dozens of pictures depicting the two of them sitting with all their friends and cousins in ginormous holes.  But life is not all fun and games.  The rule is that the hole must be filled in before we leave.  We try to be respectful of the beach.  Mostly, we don’t want some unsuspecting person to fall and break their leg.

Another rule that has been ingrained in them since birth – you may not play or dig on the dunes.  To us it is just common sense, erosion of the dunes will ultimately cause erosion of the beach.  It appears as if not everyone knows this.  Every year we see children playing and digging on the dunes causing huge chunks of dune to fall – rivers of sand sliding away.  I’m not sure where the parents are during this time.  Even if I didn’t know that the dunes are there for a reason, I would stop my kids from what looks like destruction of a beautiful part of the island.  But no.  It is always upon us to preserve and protect our beautiful dunes.  I send my children over to politely explain that you must cease and desist – digging and playing on the dunes is just not allowed.  They continue to dig.  And so, now I must walk over…

Me (in my best Kindergarten teacher voice):  Hi.  I just thought I’d let you know that you really aren’t allowed to dig or play on the dunes.
Kids (ranging in ages from 8 – 13):  Oh, we didn’t know.
Me:  Yes, you see digging and playing in the dunes destroys the dunes then the beach will be destroyed and we won’t have a beach anymore.  So, now you understand and you have this whole big beach (arm waving towards the beach) full of sand to dig.
Kids:  Oh, but we want the red sand and we can only get the red sand here.
Me:  Yes, the red sand is very pretty, but you can’t dig here.
Kids:  Well, we really like the red sand.
Me:  I’m sure you do, but you really can’t dig the red sand.
Kids:  What about over there? We can get the red sand there! (points to another lower part of the dune)
Me: Nope, that’s still part of the dune.
Kids:  Oh.
Me:  You can dig in all this other sand, but you can’t dig in the red sand (which is soil people not sand).
Kids:  Oh.  OK.

Throughout this entire exchange no adults belonging to these children acknowledged that this discussion was occurring.  This was very disconcerting to me.  If some random adult purposefully walked over to my children and was having a conversation with them, I would  get up to find out what was going on.  If someone was explaining to my children that what they were doing was not allowed, I would say something like, “Oh gosh we had know idea. I’m so sorry.  Thank you so much for letting us know.  I’ll make sure they don’t play up there anymore.”  But no.  I walked away without any acknowledgement whatsoever.

I try to keep my ecological footprint small in all walks of life, but especially on the beach.  Sure, I could stay off the beach completely and have zero ecological impact, but the beach feeds my soul in a way no other part of nature does.  So, I will go to the beach and continue to teach my children (and occasionally other people’s children) how to keep their footprints small as well.

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