Anne Notations

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Day at the beach

Yesterday grandbaby Caroline stayed home with a bad cold, Melinda and Kevin went back to school for half-days, and I found myself unexpectedly with a day almost to myself.

And what a day. Really, a "10" on the beautiful-day scale. Blue, yellow, green, sparkling. As the dog and I headed toward the beach path, something that looked like a very plump bee whizzed straight over my head. Hummingbird! The orange trumpet-vine flowers that grow wild across our road must attract them. Note to self: Put out a hummingbird feeder next spring.

On to the tawny-white sand. High tide: everything clean, the water deep blue with foamy crests. For a change, only a few discarded bottles and fast-food papers to clean up. Late summer means that we locals are getting "our" beach back from the summer hordes.

Iced coffee and the newspaper on the front porch in a new Adirondack chair the color of mist; breezes and sun rippling over my left shoulder, and that ineffable salt-water smell whispering "this is home"....

After errands with Kevin, a late afternoon hour on the deserted beach in my bathing suit, an old sea wall and fronds of seagrass at my back. By this time the tide was too low for swimming, but the exposed sand bars yielded a large hermit crab curled like a child's pink fist inside a whelk shell encrusted with barnacles; a juvenile horseshoe crab the color of translucent wheat; little geysers where hidden clams burped. I lay down on my towel in the lowering sun, toasted my achey bones, and realized that I was enacting In Real Life the very scenario I used to imagine when doing relaxation exercises for my panic attacks.

The farm stand nearby yielded huge, perfect ripe tomatoes and sweet butter-and-sugar corn for our supper. Also: a large bouquet of garden zinnnias for $3. I divided it into two vases: pinks and roses in one (the larger), and oranges/reds in another, augmented with white Queen Anne's lace, feathery wild grass heads, and sprays of small white flowers from across the road. These are some of the little touches I had "seen" when I looked forward to our return to seaside life after 20 years.

The sun descended behind Buttonwoods across the cove in a rich smudge of magenta, orange, and red. The crickets and other insects began their nightly chorus; it's the good kind of noise I like around us. Daisy and I settled by the TV to watch a stunning movie on bird migration on the local PBS station. I will never look at a wedge of geese overhead the same way - indeed, this morning just such a formation flew high overhead as I walked the beach, and my heart beat faster for the majesty and purpose of their flight.

In the sky to my west, a nearly-full ghost moon floated like a watermark on a pale sheet of morning sky.

Please don't think I'm bragging or gloating. My life is nowhere near perfect. I'm still disorganized and locked in constant battle with my own procrastination and fears. Michael is unemployed, and we obsess about our stressed finances and what they mean for our children's college educations. My bursitis and incipient arthritis make me cry out with pain in the evenings; I go through Aleve like M&M's. Our two teenagers, while loved and wondrous, are, after all, teenagers, with all the angst and attitude that implies. Two very special women I knew died this past week, leaving behind legions of grieving family, friends, and former students; the world is the poorer for their deaths, although their legacies are rich and enduring.

Still, I feel like the luckiest woman on Earth. I can't remember the last time I lived in the moment as much as I have this summer in our new home at the beach.


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