Building a Memory

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On Friday night, with my wine glass in hand, after two long professional days and a third day working in my classroom, I announced, “I want to go to the beach this weekend!”

My husband and my visiting in-laws and I made plans to head to Popham Beach the next morning.

Happily, the forecast was accurate, and on Saturday morning we arrived at the beach to find warm, welcoming temperatures, stunning clear blue skies and gentle surf.

We walked along together, greeting other beach walkers, exclaiming about the beauty of the day, chatting about this and that. Then, slowly we drifted apart. My in-laws followed their dog’s exploratory path. My husband stopped to chat to a surf fisherman. I wandered on ahead, snapping occasional photos.

After a while, I realized that the beach was empty around me. I stopped walking and turned to face the ocean. I closed my eyes.

“Absorb this moment,” I told myself. “Feel the warmth of the sun. Feel the solidity of your feet planted in the sand. Breathe deeply and smell that fresh salty air. Feel the breeze on your skin. Listen to the wind and the steady rush of the surf. Remember this moment. Build a sure, deep memory that you can hold close as the school year begins and through the coming busy, busy days.”

I waited for several, slow moments.
Breathing.
Feeling.
Listening.
Creating a memory to sustain me.

After one more long, deep breath, I opened my eyes, and looked around. Ahead of me, other beach goers wandered and their dogs raced along happily, sniffing, exploring. High above, an osprey circled, and a few cormorants flew by, skimming the waves. 

I turned back to see my husband approaching. As he walked up to me, I slipped my hand in his, and leaned into his side briefly. Then we walked further down the beach together.

 

How Lovely Life Can Be

11454297503_e27946e4ff_hI sprawled on the chair in the family room, book in hand, feeling low-energy yet restless. From upstairs, a hum of voices floated down, punctuated by laughs and giggles. Addie and her friend, Kayla. Lydia was in her room, chatting online with her boyfriend. Kurt was at a meeting. Maybe we should go to the beach or do something, I thought idly. But I didn’t move.

A little bit later, Addie wandered downstairs and into the room. “Want to do something?”

“Well,” I said without much enthusiasm, “I was just thinking we could go down to the beach. It’s a little bit late, but it’s probably gonna be pretty down there.”

Addie floated the idea to Kayla and Lydia, and between the four of us we worked up some motivation and headed out. Half an hour later as we drove down the peninsula, we debated which part of the beach to visit. Should we go to the old fort where the seals sometimes fish and  frolic? Or should we visit the state park portion where wide open expanses of beach invite long strolls?

“Well, I think it’s almost low tide, so we could walk out to Fox Island,” I suggested. “That could be fun. We haven’t done that in ages.”

“I don’t remember ever walking out to an island!” Lydia protested. Despite our detailed descriptions, she couldn’t remember it at all. That settled it. Fox Island it was.

We pulled into the lot and parked, opening the doors to temperatures in the high 60s and a lovely afternoon glow. We walked up the path over the dunes, and the beach unfolded before us. Fox Island lay directly ahead, the large sandy causeway clearly visible. Already the sun was heading down, spilling golden light upon the wet sand.

“Oh, it’s beautiful!” I sighed.

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A few people wandered in the distance, silhouetted against sand or surf. Layers of mist obscured the shore line of islands and a distant light house. Over time, they drifted into the beach and then away again, veils hiding and revealing, in constant flux. Herring gulls strutted along the tide line, foraging, their reflections bright in the wet sand. DSCN5326.jpg

The girls and I meandered along the beach, stopping to snap pictures, gradually heading out to the island. As the sun slipped lower, the light shifted as we walked. At times it was so golden it felt surreal, at others cooler and toned with serene blues and greys.

We reached Fox Island and the girls climbed ahead onto the rocks. I stopped to watch them and to soak in the scene around me. Their voices and laughter drifted back in the cool air. The waves tumbled and crashed and the sun continued its slow golden descent. The mist shifted and skimmed over the sand. I closed my eyes briefly, etching it all into memory, fully content and deeply moved.

This beautiful place. These beautiful girls. This beautiful moment.

How lovely life can be.

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On Fox Island

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view from Fox Island

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The golden hour

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My girls tracking hermit crabs

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