Thursday, August 18, 2011
Down the Shore
I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.
- John Masefield
There's a lovely saying out there that goes "A bad day at the beach is better than a good day at work."
I firmly believe this.
I don't know if I've ever found a place I like living as much as the shore. Growing up was mostly in the wilds of the Pine Barrens of South Jersey (complete with Jersey Devil legends and all that fun stuff.)
Part of that whole package included weekly trips to the shore during the summer where my grandmother had a little cottage by the sea, where my dad grew up during *his* summers. (About 7 houses down from the ocean.) That eventually led into my parents buying a slightly larger house of their own just down the road and after many years of renting it, it became our summer home.
It's really quite the privilege, honestly. Even though it's rather modest by today's standards - just a small Cape Cod design - no microwave, no dishwasher, no AC - there is something so fabulous about falling asleep to the sound of the waves hitting the sand. (This is the Atlantic Ocean, mind - definitely a bit different than what you'd find down in Carribbean.)
I was the wild child - catching crabs, turtles and the occasional sea-horse or pipe fish. (Once a blowfish. A couple of eels. Even a lobster - which is a bit rare for the bay.) Crabbing late at night would lead to the snaring of bio-luminescent jelly fish that would light up our little spot of the bay in bright greens. (Oddly enough, although I have no problem catching or killing or cooking seafood for others, I will not eat it.)
We had a 60 year old willow tree in the backyard, although it did eventually die about 10 years ago. I replaced it a few years after that with a sapling after my mother passed away. Suppose it was more symbolic than anything else, although it was my favorite tree. I spent hours climbing it.
We'd see dolphins just off shore as well as pelicans, piping plovers and the occasional seal. And yes, LBI had several Great White encounters in the early 1900s that were the inspiration for Jaws, but except for a couple of sand sharks and a small Mako we ran into when I was learning to scuba dive, sharks were never an issue.
I was married there, as was my brother (and several cousins). We poured a bag of sand from the beach onto my mother's coffin during her funeral. My son got his first introduction to the sea at the age of 3 months.
Clearly this place is deeply rooted within my family. Believe me - we were offered a million dollars for the plot our little house was on and refused to sell it.
So for me, even though I'm currently living elsewhere for reasons of necessity, it's not really a question of *if* I'll move back there.
There is always sand in my shoes.