Aug 21, 2016 04:38PM ● Published by Today's Family
We headed out on beach adventures twice this summer; once during a festival on a hot, sunny weekend, and more recently on an overcast, rainy day. The festival was filled with music, food trucks, sand sculptures, kite flying, and hordes of people swimming and lounging in the sand. It was summer at its quintessential best. On the cloudy day, however, we had the place to ourselves.
Instead of throngs of sunbathers, the beach was covered with birds enjoying the sound of the surf and the absence of people. My girls couldn’t resist the urge to charge through the flock, their laughter mingling with the squawking birds as both species raced along the shoreline.
The strong waves deposited many new treasures at our feet as we walked along searching the banks for items to add to our beach artwork. We battled waves, played in the sand, picnicked under a shelter with a few other brave souls when the rain came, and made priceless memories that day. Earlier, we had debated on cancelling our trip, but in the end, figured we’d get wet at the beach, regardless of the weather, and I’m glad we decided to go. Until that moment, I had forgotten how much fun you can have at the beach on a seemingly gloomy day.
When I was a kid, we lived across the street from Lake Erie. Every summer, we’d spend countless hours -- whenever we could get an adult to supervise us -- on the beach swimming, riding waves, and collecting rocks and beach glass along the water's edge. When the weather was sunny and warm, the place would be packed with hordes of families spread out on blankets and towels to sunbathe, teens bobbing in the surf, and gangs of small kids building castles and digging holes to China. We didn’t need to take a vacation, since our regular house served as our beach house. We didn’t need to make special plans to watch a sunset on any given evening, which was ideal, since spur-of-the-moment plans didn’t work well for our family of eight (three of which were under the age of three).
Watching the sun seem to disappear into the lake, my dad once commented that he expected to hear the sizzle when it hit the water.
But the beach wasn’t just for sunny days. When a storm passed through, it kicked up awesome waves, and we’d beg to go to the beach. We’d have to time it perfectly, rushing out between waves to get out to the deeper water. Once we made it out, we kept your eyes glued to the horizon, bobbing on lesser waves and waiting for the biggest one to body surf back to shore. One wrong move, and we’d be caught inside the wave, tumbling like a rag doll. One moment, we were on top, the next, we were unceremoniously spit out on the shore with sand in our ears, up our nose, and everywhere else. Looking back, I’m not sure why Mom let us do this. I can only assume we wore her down -- I know how hearing my two kids’ incessant “Mom? Mom? Mooom…!” drove me nuts this summer. I can only imagine how my mom dealt with all of us, working in shifts to repeatedly ask, “When can we go to the beach today, Mom?”
Every day, the beach offered a new adventure. We’d swim in good or bad weather, even when the water made our lips turn blue. “It’s not bad once you get used to it,” we’d say, although no adult would venture in long enough to test this theory. When fall came, we’d take walks on the beach, watching the water pound the shore, taunt each other with gross things that washed up or search for beach glass and driftwood. On many occasions, the walk would be cut short when someone got ‘surprised’ by a wave accidentally on purpose. In winter, the waves froze quiet and bleak, like a lunar landscape. No matter what the weather, the beach beckoned, offering new adventures. I recently found a quote that expresses it well. “Then I realized adventures are the best way to learn.”
And even though my kids have returned to school and the opportunities for fun family adventures are now limited to weekends and prized days off school, we plan to continue seeking out these simple adventures. Who knows what we’ll find around the next corner, down the trail, or at the shore?