This August, my husband started a tradition that will live on forever. Instead of buying “stuff” for my birthday, we started bringing our picnic dinner to the beach at 4 pm every day and enjoyed the quiet, afternoon sun at WoodNeck. We extended our respite through sunset–and that was something else.
Every day we saw the sun go down at a slightly different time and often in a dramatically different way. Sometimes it was a hot ball of fire slowly slipping through a cloudless horizon. Other times, the clouds filtered reflections creating a light and color show that was exquisite and exciting. The “after sunset show” was so often a surprising, exhilarating encore. We soaked it all up. It was joyful– and it’s not over. We repeated this ritual every day, not only through August, but through September and now in October when it’s not too cold or windy.
Truth be told, a few days ago we did bundle up with sweat pants, woolen socks, hats, finger-less mittens and ate grilled swordfish on top of salad and warm rice. A bottle of red wine and a thermos of hot coffee were at hand. I can see us doing this for a very long time… maybe not every day… but it will happen again soon, and it will be grand! Here are just a few snapshots that capture a small part of the magic.
We start this day with a morning walk to WoodNeck Beach– always a wise decision. The weather is perfect, the birds are singing, and there is always so much to quietly observe. Daisies grow so much better along the path than in my garden. Waterlilies float on the marsh, not close enough to photograph, but beautiful to see. Sandalwood and honeysuckle fragrance waft in the salty breeze. The poison ivy is bushy and shiny– it almost looks pretty– until you think about it a bit more. Sand crabs dig perfectly circular holes leaving lumpy trails of debris behind. The beach is empty and beautiful with the tide going out and the damp sand is easy to walk on. A few sun salutations are in order. Then we walk into a plover family: mama, dad, and four little ones just born yesterday. They scamper on the sand and are uninterrupted by man or beast. In 26 days, they will be gone. The little ones learn to feed themselves and who knows which ones will return next year. The lifeguard chair is turned on its side still, but it won’t be long before more folks arrive and soak up the rays, play in the sand and go for a swim.
The lifeguards will be gone and so will the ice cream trucks, but it has been years since I paid much attention to either. There will be more sea glass, dark purple clam shells and lots of quiet. The seagulls will be more excited about the stale bread we bring for them.
And when we stay for the whole day, I might have a thermos of hot coffee along with my tall iced coffee— and there will probably be a sweatshirt thrown into the beach bag and maybe a larger piece of knitting.