Friday, August 5, 2011

The Beach

As a tomboy growing up wild in Connecticut there was nothing that could keep my three younger brothers and I indoors on those spectacular summer days. We learned to love the outdoors from my mother who unleashed in the early morning right after breakfast. What began as critical for her mental well being grew into our unbridled and lifelong passion to roam free and play wild.

Though we spent most days as lords of our own incredible hood - which was a retired cow pasture bordering acres of thick woods - a trip to the beach was a plunge into another grand adventure of our best imagined possibilities.

We needed a ride to get to the beach, so it was always a long shot on any given day whether or not we’d make it. But when mom’s call went out, we all piled into our old station wagon like a pack of wild animals. From that point on and for the next six at least hours, we’d be on hyper speed to make sure  we didn’t miss a single thing - and we didn’t.

We'd stay all day - the tide would come and go and come again. Creatures hid in the mudscape that was low tide - underfoot, under rocks and in the seaweed. Sand sharks swam through our legs. We'd create huge cities and watch them crumble back into what they came from, dig for clams, and stay in the water for so long we’d become fish - our fingers and toes wrinkled into scales, our brains waterlogged with unadulterated joy. My mom entrusted us to the beach and the ocean enabling her to relax and find herself. She wade into the water, splash water on her arms and then plunge into her famed sidestroke along the shoreline. As lightning storms conjured up, rolling straight at us from Long Island, they’d bring mesmerizing bolts of lightning and huge waves to jump. We stand and challenge the mightiest mother nature had to hurl at us and at the same time challenge our own mother to come and get us, screaming from shore to no avail.  We were trapped between two of the greatest forces of nature. It was one of the few times I saw my mother really angry with us. But I firmly believe now that there was part of her that was a savage just like us and who relished the opportunity to test her mortality too.

Mom would pack us lunch from home, but if the stars and planets were aligned, and the thought of going back to our stuffy, hot and humid little house inland was unbearable to her, she would make a run to Gold's Deli in town and return with fixins' for fat, luscious sandwiches for dinner - roast beef, ham or turkey, stuffed between two pieces of soft rye bread, and slathered with mustard and mayo. It was a feast beyond words, laced with salt air and peppered with sand. As we all sat around this feast, we were gently embraced by her infectious joy and caressed by the softest and most sultry ocean breeze. We were so happy there.

It was truly heaven on earth, and something that created a wanderlust and insatiable curiosity in us all. Throughout our lives we would always speak with a hint of somewhere else, like a filmy memory of someplace other than where we stood. This special place that just the five of us inhabited would always be draped before our mind's eye like fairy dust, glittering and constantly beckoning us to fly up and away and to be free, always beckoning us to be free.

The Beach • 8" x 8" watercolor framed to 12" x 12" • $200

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