if you’re fond of sand dunes, and salt sea air…

Patti Page died today.  She sang this song, and I love this song.  It reminded me of my family vacation to Cape Cod two summers ago.  We’ve gone back since, but this was our first, and it was wonderful.

Morning Before the Journey:

We are headed up there today,  for less than a week, which is less than it’s taken to plan this excursion.  Four relaxing days, three nights.  A friend’s empty cottage, between the ocean and a marsh.  The marsh turns into a “river” at high tide, and there will be tubing.  There will be swimming, sand castles, shells, sandy feet, and fried clams.

First Night, Settled In

Night.  Dark.  Sitting outside the bitty cottage, damp and chilly, in a nightgown and cashmere hoody.  I hear waves.  Doing their cliched wave thing, crashing upon the shore.  I hear crickets, birds, frogs, whichever living things make all this chirpy, whirry, beepy, buzzy nighttime noise.  The air smells like Cape Cod.  Not like the Jersey Shore, which also smells wonderfully of the ocean, but like Cape Cod.  A completely different sea smell. There is the faintest whiff of wood smoke – someone burning a fire on the beach.  Small twinge of envy.  Vague memory of the me that would have thrown on jeans and run to see where the party was.

I’m trying to sit up straight while I type.  To let this all into me, where I can pull it out when I need it.  Like Leo Lionni’s Frederick the mouse, storing colors for the winter.  I am storing peace.  A piece of myself I know I will need in the months ahead.
So dark!  I expected more and brighter stars.  Tonight is not completely clear, the stars are peeking through a thin cloud cover.  So cold!  The chill is either getting chillier, or I’ve been sitting here long enough to get really cold.  It feels good – not air conditioner cold, but damp, chilly, beach air cold.  Hoody or sweater and shorts and bare feet on damp sand cold.

Just as on the beach today, lying in the sun, the heat soaking in to my skin (along with various UVB rays that will be sure to turn into melanoma)… I could sit out here and feel this forever.  Beach day, beach night.  I’d love to run over the dunes to the water right now, and if there was a moon I would feel compelled to do it.  Moonlit beach – how long has that been?  Fire Island?  That’s a long time ago, in both time and spirit.

I think in another life, I must have lived on an island.  By the water.  There is something about the rhythm of water, waves… even when you don’t hear the waves, they are there. It’s a pulse that doesn’t really exist in other places.  Time is different.  Air is different.  The tidal pull from the moon.

The spell is broken by teenagers, loudly being teenagers somewhere sandy.  This pulls me out of my quiet, communing with the beach at night moment.  So now I’m headed inside, because without the magic of the silence (the silence of the chirping, whirry creatures and the ocean), it’s too damned cold to sit out here click-clacking away.

Second Night

The rain stayed away.  We had a truly gorgeous Cape day today – perfect sunshine, a wonderful day to play in the low tide marsh, to be on the beach.  Hubs took Things One and Two for a walk while I sat in the sand, reading the most recent Sookie Stackhouse, cranking tunes, turning my chair towards the sun every now and then.  Dozing, reading, soaking in the warm sunshine and the quiet.
The kids came back, I’d finished my book, and we played in the water.  We explored the sand bar, saw many creatures.  Lots of sea weed, wrapped around legs and arms, feet… Kinda like my kids…
Fried clams for dinner.

Morning Before Heading Back Home

We’ll be leaving tonight.  It’s been a great  mini-vacation.  This tiny cottage was wonderful.  Beach and marsh were right here.  We walked, tubed, had a beach fire, ate fried clams… I wrote on the deck in the cold, dark night.  This morning, I’m out here during the sunrise.
It’s been great in ways I did not anticipate: to my surprise, my children loved this simple, small cottage, and realized how wonderful a place like this can be.  It’s not a big and fancy house, there weren’t a lot of take outs, shops and restaurants near by.  It was all about the beach.  Being outside.  Being on the Cape.

Last night, sitting around our beach fire, which was a perfect Last Night on Cape Cod sort of thing to do, I told the Hubs and Things about how when I was younger, I’d always wanted to live on Fire Island for an entire year: to experience each season there, to spend the year in a little house, holed up and writing.  The three of them have no idea what that means, logistically, but they were all surprised.

The beach fire last night was perfect.  The sky was so clear, the stars were bright and sparkly.  The Things saw a shooting star.   We roasted marshmallows (I can’t wait to try to get that out of Thing Two’s hair later this morning). We lay back around our little circle of rocks and fire, and looked up at the sky.  Hubs and I listened to the kids talk like they don’t talk at home, especially Thing One.  It wasn’t too cold, and everyone got tired and sandy.

Earlier during the day, tubing was great fun – it was an adventure for us, we are not exactly a great outdoors sort of family.  Except for Thing Two flipping over while riding a big wave (we tubed from the inlet to the ocean), everyone loved it, laughed, and really got into it.  Yesterday the weather was perfect.  The air and the sun were perfect.  Today will be as well, and I should spend some time before everyone gets up, packing up and all that.  For now, I’m sitting on the couch by the big window, clicking away.


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