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At the Beach

July 2, 2018

IMG_1659We went to my favorite place in the world last week, one of the barrier islands near Charleston, South Carolina. They are all delightful, but the one we have stayed on with college friends every other June for the past 25 years has acquired lots of pleasant associations.

35659938_10214834555730530_1011831730148999168_nI always make a schedule, both so I won’t have to be calling and making arrangements while we’re there and so we have a few events to remember the week by, as it’s easy to fall into a slow pace and then stop doing much of anything–which is always pleasant but not quite enough. This year the schedule included a party for everyone (12 of us) at our rental house the night of our arrival on the island, dinner the next night in Charleston, a kayaking trip on Monday, a trip to the Charleston market on Tuesday, dinner in Charleston on Wednesday, a sailboat tour of the harbor on Thursday, crabbing on Friday afternoon, and then a party at the other friends’ rental house on Friday evening.

35521271_10214828338255097_2959285892042194944_nWe didn’t end up going crabbing. We all kind of wanted to, but it was just so hot we didn’t end up dragging ourselves out the long pier in the afternoon sun. The beach was great every morning—sunny and so hot that by noon that we were glad enough to go in for a while. Our rental house had a pool, and most days we got in after lunch and played with the peacock float I got for Christmas. As is tradition, the adult children made a short movie using the peacock and a couple of other inflatables that came with the house.

IMG_1568Our friends set up a tent, so we had some shade for sitting on the beach and visiting. I had to have help to get out past the breakers to swim around in the ocean and then to get back onto the shore. One time a wave knocked me down on the way out, and my kids dragged me out to sea, one holding each hand. I also needed help to get in and out of the pool; we figured out that I could get in and out very well if we put a chair next to the steps and had someone sit in it so I could use it as a rail.

IMG_1591We always make a big sand castle together, and this year we decided it would be the Taj Mahal. (We made other, smaller castles separately and in smaller groups on other mornings during the week.) 35628700_10214841414782002_5152556318074077184_nIMG_1619

We saw pelicans, gulls, dolphins, and lots of different kinds of crabs and whelks and snails and lettered olive shells. On the kayaking trip we saw a great blue heron close up, and watched oysters squirting water into the air. Here’s a photo of a ghost crab, flushed out of his hole by a wave coming up onto the dry sand:IMG_1661

The week was very much like the scene in this poem by Robert Wrigley:

At the Beach

What are they, those burrowing crustaceans, the ones
my son and I unbeach each summer
building sandcastles? Thumb-large
helmets with dainty, iridescent feet
and as far as I can see no eyes,
no head, no front or back at all, only
the shove and pull of the waves,
or only the quick, attentive gulls, who love them
just as they would love us, my son and me, if they could,
and who, the truth be told, cannot name us either.

36137030_10214862951320402_197427010803335168_nI’ve been to some fabulous beaches in my life, but this one is always my favorite, perhaps just because of the years of memories and the company, but also for the variety of the marine life, the quality of the sand–which I’ve come to judge all other sand by–and the way our group can split up in all sorts of different ways to do all the things we enjoy most with some of the people we enjoy most.

22 Comments leave one →
  1. Alice Couvillon permalink
    July 2, 2018 12:17 am

    Sounds like a lovely week! Alice

    Sent from my iPhone


    • July 2, 2018 12:08 pm

      It was; always is. The weather isn’t always so hot and sunny, though! You know how I love to be warm.

  2. Carol S Schumacher permalink
    July 2, 2018 8:52 am

    This was a lovely reminiscence of such a fantastic week!

    • July 2, 2018 12:09 pm

      Glad you liked it! And it galvanized me into action on posting all the photos I took on the sailboat.

  3. rohanmaitzen permalink
    July 2, 2018 1:32 pm

    That does look like a beautiful place! I’ve become much less beach-tolerant over the years as I hate the way sand gets in everything and it never seems to be really peaceful enough to read–but looking at that glorious expanse of sand and water I do feel the pull. How nice to have memories and traditions like that too.

    • July 3, 2018 8:21 am

      I like sand, and the way my friends and I bring books out to the beach but don’t end up reading them there because there are friends we don’t often get to talk to! I read the new David Sedaris book Calypso on the way to the beach, and kept meaning to read parts out loud to others or recommend an essay so we could talk about it, but never found the time.

  4. July 3, 2018 9:30 am

    That sounds like a wonderful trip. I’m heading to a SC beach with a friend on the 30th and I can’t wait. (Of course, SC beaches are close for me.) She’s renovating a house and will move right before our trip so we won’t be so organized – we’ll probably do a lot of lounging around, napping, and sitting on the beach.

    • July 3, 2018 9:38 am

      You’re smart to live in a place where SC beaches are close! With two people you don’t need to be as organized. With twelve I think it works better to have a plan, even if you don’t stick to all of it.

  5. July 3, 2018 11:25 am

    What a wonderful tradition.

    I will take as a good omen the Taj Mahal, which figures in the second volume of the Pride’s Children maintream trilogy, NETHERWORLD, so I’m highly sensitive to mentions of it this year. I have been digging into history, and what was happening in 2005/2006 – more than you’d believe! The World Heritage Organization almost kicked them out.

    Your schedule sounds like a lot of fun – and an enormous amount of work. You must all mostly be mobile and functional.

    I loved your pictures and your attitude.

    • July 3, 2018 11:31 am

      We picked the Taj Mahal before we knew our friend Anisha, who has Indian heritage and pronounces the name in a slightly different way, was coming to the beach with us, and before we knew that Eleanor is headed to India and going to see it in person with her college friends at the end of this month.
      My main impetus for physical therapy and continuing rehab is to be able to walk on sand and get in and out of a lake or the ocean. It’s very difficult at the edge and that’s why I need someone’s shoulder or hand. I would not have been able to go kayaking except that Walker agreed to help lower me onto the kayak and get me up off it at the end, which he did very courteously.

      • July 3, 2018 11:41 am

        How lovely – I had to eschew the beach in Maui (and even the pool for a whole day). Just completely wiped out.

        I got to see my kids for a week – and they fed me regularly – and I encouraged them all to go do things, which they did.

        But it was the most exhausting ‘vacation’ I’ve had in a long time, and I fear it’s getting worse.

        • July 3, 2018 11:49 am

          That’s hard. We pushed my mother around Maui in a wheelchair but most of what she could do was go to restaurants and sit to admire the view. What a view though! Sometimes I think it’s good to push your boundaries and feel whether the exhaustion is worth it.

          • July 3, 2018 8:08 pm

            Not worth it just for me. I was so close to crashed the whole trip I couldn’t do much of anything. Worth it to the kids, and to making sure they spend time together – they have no close family in the States.

  6. July 3, 2018 6:17 pm

    What a lovely trip! Thanks for sharing your pictures. I love SC beaches too – we’re planning another trip in October. Sounds like you had a nice round of activities without doing so much that you got exhausted. There’s so much to see in that area. And some really good food!

    • July 3, 2018 10:12 pm

      Oh yes. This trip I had she-crab soup at every restaurant.
      October sounds like a lovely time to go, if you’re not an academic.

  7. July 7, 2018 7:47 pm

    This sounds wonderful! I’m massively impressed with your sandcastle-building skills. I do not even feel confident I could build a castle-looking sandcastle, let alone one in the image of an extremely famous, real building.

  8. July 20, 2018 9:49 pm

    I love that you made a sand Taj Majal. That is so unique! The whole trip sounds like such an iconic summer experience.

    • July 21, 2018 8:27 am

      Over the years we have, as a group, made several famous and recognizable buildings out of sand. One of my favorites was Barad-dur, when the movie had just come out and Walker had a squirty eyeball water toy that we incorporated at the top. We’ve also built Easter Island statues, the U.S. Capitol with Washington Monument and reflecting pool, and Chichen Itza. We always put the toy gator and crab in the moat dug to get sand for whatever castle we’re building, ever since Eleanor was two and first put them in there (they were her squirty toys, named after book characters–the gator is Bridget and the crab Mary).

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