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on the edge

July 28, 2009
relaxing at the base of a dune at Salmon Creek

relaxing at the base of a dune at Salmon Creek

Lukas has never really been to the beach but knows somehow it is amazing even before we arrive. He begins to complain as he, Scott and I drive out there. I often find that if the little guy complains in the car I just tell him where we are going and he stops complaining—he just wants to know what’s happening. So I say “We’re going to the beach” and his complaining stops and a few seconds later he says, “beach!”. 

When we arrive he is so excited he can’t even stand it! I have him in the ergo carrier on my back to take him out over the dunes and he is bouncing up and down, kicking his little legs out and pointing at the ocean and squealing and smiling his huge smile–just the reaction you want from a kid! The pointing at the ocean is what I find hilarious, like you can point at something like the ocean! On the Dillon Beach cliff on New Year’s Day  he pointed at the ocean too (see header above for Dillon Beach ocean pointing). 

He turns out to be more of a homebody here than I thought he would be, staying near us and not running off into the distance like I expected (judging from what he does on the homefront). We all relax on the blanket into the warm comfortable sand and the foggy, white air. The water rolls in with the richest white waves I have ever seen, backed by an ancient ice blue. We are just there, in the moment. Everywhere else, there are plans to make, things to think about. Here, there is nothing but the sand, the ocean, the sky.

pointing at a crab

pointing at a crab

We all walk to the edge of the North American continent and I show Lukas some crabs and kelp. He continues pointing at the vastness of the Pacific, and then at one of the crabs on the beach. He wants to get down, then up, then down, I am totally fine with this game today, since I know he is wanting to be on the beach but then becomes a little fearful of it. But not too fearful. At one point, the waves come in and I help him back away from the layer of foamy water sliding towards us and he giggles with delight and turns his head to give me a quick smile! 

Snowy seagulls glide past us overhead. Then we see the kites. Two of them in the sky, a big rainbow one flown by a guy and a smaller “kite shaped” one with the image of a little girl on it—that one is being flown by a little girl who tells Scott, ” I have a kite!” Lukas loves these kites. “Kite!” he says and points at the rainbow one. “There are two kites,” I say and point to each one and he holds up the first fingers of both hands to indicate “two” and grins.

pointing at the ocean

pointing at the ocean

Eventually we are back at the blanket and he decides to venture out. As he climbs a dune, I marvel at how like Scott he is, trying to find a vantage point. He finds a spot where he has a good view of the ocean, and of us, and plays there. Every once in a while he looks over at us with his big smile! I find it strange that I am relaxing while he plays so far away (only about 15 feet) since usually I feel like I am chasing him or keeping him from falling or from grabbing something he shouldn’t be grabbing. Here, he is just existing and I am just existing. It is quiet. It is easy. It is how it is supposed to be. In the white air it feels a little dreamy, and in the distance, a guy runs on the ocean’s edge doing handstands and diving into the waves. A girl in a bikini plays paddleball with her friend, even though the wind is freezing on this northern California beach. A group of teenagers emerge from a dugout shelter with tambourines and drums, and I feel like part of the sand, part of the fog and wind, and Lukas crawls back “mama, mama, mop, mop” I nurse him on the blanket and we look at each other with the deep connection of a mama and baby.

He is warm and toasty in his double jacket and fleece rainbow pants. As I survey the scene of Scott sleeping on the sand near us and me not worrying and Lukas calm and relaxed, I wonder about nature deficit disorder. I wonder if maybe all of us suffer from it, even if we grew up with nature as a child since our daily lives are generally isolated from nature. I wonder at how quickly I slip back into comfort with the natural world once I am in it again. I wonder at how it feels different in different parts of the beach, warmer sand here, colder up high, cold at the ocean’s edge, warm behind the dugout. I marvel at how intimate a knowledge of our world we would have if we lived outside, since I am already aware of these few things just from being there a few hours.

When the wind picks up later in the day, we gather our blankets and head back to the car. Lukas says “Beach!” and “Kites!”  for a while as we drive home and then falls asleep wearing his sunglasses, which he has been putting on and taking off back there in his carseat. A sweet end to a simple and comfortable day.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. July 29, 2009 5:20 am

    i just loved reading this. The intimacy of the mind and the texture of the beach day were both right there for me, beautifully. Thank you for sharing it with me.

    • karenhess permalink
      July 29, 2009 4:25 pm

      Thank you Susan! What a beautiful comment! It was a magical day…

  2. August 8, 2009 2:06 am

    This is such a delicious post, as is the GreenString post. You really capture the moment(s) of babies first trip to the beach. Lukas is one lucky little boy to have you for a momma!

    • karenhess permalink
      August 8, 2009 3:50 am

      thanks marilee–the beach and green string really are both delicious!

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