Anne Morrow Lindbergh says the beach is not the place to work or read or even think. I’d gladly argue with her but for the fact that she adds something like ‘initially’, as in first you need to find the rhythm of things, of yourself, the words you take in or mull over or put out.
I notice how right she is when I arrive and set down my bag containing water, lunch, notebook, pen, reading glasses, hat, camera, and before unpacking it all… just sit for a while. I’m hungry. I want to eat and read and make notes, take photos but all that To Do can wait. To reach into that bag too soon defeats the purpose of being here.
Instinct says sit. And just breathe.
It’s not difficult.
There is the sky.
And two women, both in red and white striped tee shirts; one is elderly, the other in her forties maybe, a daughter? They’re collecting something as they walk, reaching down every few moments and picking things up. Beach glass? Are they scooping up ALL the beach glass before I can get any?? I panic a little at the thought and consider racing out in front of them. It occurs to me that in all the hundreds and thousands of times I’ve been here I’ve never once noticed anyone else collecting beach glass. People skip stones and there’s the guy who has a metal detector who showed me the old silver Tiffany locket he found. People carve initials into picnic tables and have BBQs and recently I saw a margarine container filled with really beautiful glass that someone left behind in the playground… but I’ve never seen anyone do the actual collecting.
The red and white stripes are so far along by now that to rush ahead of them would be a spectacle, not to mention tiring in the heat. I decide to let it go, that whatever glass they find is meant for them. I’ll find my own. There’s always more…
Just then two more women, up on the boardwalk this time, an elderly one in a wheelchair and another, younger, pushing. The younger smiles, maybe thinking how lovely this choice of venue but the one being pushed looks sad and I wonder if this is, in fact, the worst possible venue because it reminds her of all those days and years when she was able to walk barefoot in the water… and then I think: with some things, there’s not always more.
Long before I open my bag for lunch company arrives.
We watch each other a while.
Then back to people. The guy on the jet-ski demanding attention, thundering about the lake doing doughnuts who zooms close to shore, stops, bobs on the water for fifteen minutes… checking his phone… perhaps firing off a few tweets about the thrills and chills of solitary circles at top speed.
Two boys and a girl named Lily settle down a few feet away and begin digging among the tiny stones at the edge of the water… for beach glass. They shriek when then find some and one of them walks right in front of me and smiles and I smile back but at the same time I send a strongly worded telepathic message that he not even think about digging on my turf. And he doesn’t. Never under-estimate the power of the mind.
Lily soon gets bored and leaves and the boys follow.
The bird has also moved on.
I consider having lunch but on the pier a teenaged boy in plaid shirt and work boots, picks up a teenaged girl in a brightly coloured muu-muu, and pretends he’s about to throw her into the lake. She laughs and then they walk along the shore not holding hands.
And then another couple follows a few minutes later, like a fast forward of fifty years.
Only eventually… very very eventually… do I reach for my sandwich and my book…