I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky . . .
When I was growing up, we’d usually take at least one day trip each summer to visit Pensacola Beach in the Panhandle of Florida. We would set out early in the morning with our picnic baskets and ice chests packed. I was always excited when I saw my first palm tree on the drive down; I felt as the tropics were right around the corner.
We would breakfast underneath one of the big shelters that lined the beach–a full breakfast with freshly-brewed coffee, bacon and eggs, thanks to the power outlets and Mama’s electric fryer and coffee pot. And I cannot forget the sheer deliciousness of freshly baked Krispy Kreme doughnuts from the little bakery just down the street. Piping hot yeast-raised chocolate iced doughnuts, to be exact. I was in heaven.
Like Richard, I was not a water-baby; I had a bit of a phobia about water, to be honest and didn’t learn to swim at all until I was an adult. I am mostly good at treading water and gliding. And I was so fair I had to be careful about overdoing it out in the sun so I wouldn’t look like a blue-eyed lobster. Still, I loved going to the beach.
Perhaps if I had sported a parasol and bonnet and gloves at the beach as the ladies did in Victorian times, I wouldn’t have quite so many age spots and moles starting to pop up . . . but I certainly would have gotten a lot of funny looks if I had!
My pale skin and lack of aquatic finesse did not keep me from admiring the beauty of the Gulf on a clear summer’s day, the feel of the fine-spun white sand between my toes and the chill of the water washing over my feet; the chance to build sandcastles and search for pretty shells to bring back as souvenirs. To wander in up to my waist and splash about. Every child needs to spend some time at the seashore.
I can easily summon the memory of those trips: the smell of hot plastic from the inflatable floats, our names written on them with Magic Marker, the salty air, the coconut scent of Hawaiian Tropic suntan lotion; the cry of gulls wheeling above us and the sound of transistor radios playing pop tunes and the squeak of the chains on the swings in the playground as we flew high in the air.
These days, if we go to the beach, it is to my sister and BIL’s condo down at Orange Beach here in Alabama (yes, Alabama has beaches, and quite beautiful ones). Long wooden walkways protect the dunes and sea oats along the coast; the sand is a lovely sugar-white. Children still build sandcastles and search for shells. We seek to capture the beauty we find in photographs and in paintings. We imprint it on our memories.
The eternal allure of the sand and surf, the sea and the sky; that sense of peace and serenity. The beauty of Mother Nature beckoning to us.
I think I understand how Monet felt.
I must go down to the sea again, to the lonely sea and sky . . .