An escape from the heat, with my one and only, to cool ocean breezes, the gentle murmur of the waves lapping the shore, blue skies above and a string of days with just enough sun opening out like the sea and sand on the horizon.
Lazy mornings reading on the patio, leisurely meals, even more leisurely conversations, long walks hand in hand on the beach, filling my pockets with gently worn stones and shells.
And memories, precious memories.
They come as we glimpse nursing mothers and babes under bright striped umbrellas tilted just so to shade the new little ones. As we watch toddlers hunkered down on the beach, rubbing their tiny fingers in the gritty sand, or tentatively putting a toe into the ocean and chortling with glee.
A blonde in bright pink, her hair flopping in a top knot, runs towards the surf, another turns away and looks anxiously for a mom or dad’s finger to clutch as the water nears.
There’s the little boy in navy trunks that hang to his knees, his hands cupped around a treasure pulled from the sea. A tiny crab, or fish, a silver dollar, his father’s head tipped toward his as they both examine his catch.
And there’s gaggles of kids of all ages, junior construction crews, filling buckets at water’s edge and lugging them up the beach to build castles or moats or mountains, digging, molding, patting the wet sand into structures of their own imagination.
There are others organizing impromptu ball games, sides chosen, bases laid out, rules loudly declared as they bat and chase the ball and each other across the sand.
Until they grab their boogie boards and race into the sea catching waves to ride triumphantly toward shore.
Or until it’s time for lunch or dinner.
The moms passing out foil wrapped sandwiches to the kids to gobble down, and later, as the sun begins to set and stomachs begin to grumble, groups of families, their beach chairs in half moons that expand as easily as their circles of friends, with drinks on ice, coolers with salads and chips and dips, juicy watermelons and cardboard boxes of take out pizza.
And the memories of our kids on the beach, first as those little ones, content to play with buckets and shovels and dip in the surf as we held them near. And later, as they learned to swim and brave the waves, as we sat on the shore — or paced along ocean’s edge — keeping them in clear view.
And later, still, as they became teens and their independence grew, as did the distance of their beach towels from ours, where they lay sunbathing in bikinis, slathered in oil, working on their tan lines.
And now, years later, as they take a few days off to spend with us again, at the beach.
And so it goes, a flood of memories, like the ebb and flow of the waves, days, months, years, that are fleeting. Yet, as we celebrate another year together, and watch our kids who are not kids anymore and their kids who all too soon will be grown, we realize that it is as it is supposed to be. All flying by in whoosh, life so busy, so full, so rich. Times shared, memories made, and those promises to each other when we were just kids, to love, honor and cherish, to marriage and children and family, kept.