Saturday, August 1, 2009

What Kind of Day at the Beach Are You?

The other day, we got our first chance to go to the beach this summer. I am admittedly at odds with this area and its Nascar-loving, small animal hunting denizens, but when I go to the local beach, I don’t want to live anywhere else. These are pictures of the beach about fifteen minutes from us:

I remember getting so annoyed when my adult relatives asked me to look at the sand dunes. Who wanted to do that when there was a beach with an ocean right there? I tried pointing out how amazing these places are to my kids. They responded with such a blank stare that I could hear mental tapping and the low whisper of: “When will she be done talking about sand?”

I think you can tell a whole lot about folks when you see them on the beach. My husband, the engineering type, is a logician. He reads the table they post about water temperature, tidal patterns, and the danger of rip tides before even putting the blanket down. I’m not sure what difference any of that makes; I figure out the water temperature and currents once I’m in the ocean - if I remember to think about that stuff.

Of course, he grew up inland so the beach isn’t home to him like it is to me. I grew up on a beach and never remember, not even once, having any kind of scientific table to consult before swimming. Then again, if people like me ran the world it would be a whole lot messier and way, way more bridges would collapse. I usually dump everything in a kind of territorial scatter and plunge into the water. Son #1 is like that, too. He heads straight for the water, only now, he makes sure he is really, really far from the middle aged lady in the bathing suit. When we bump into each other in the water, he nods at me and paddles away as if he has just spotted my dorsal fin.

Son #2 has become a herrmit crab. Angry that he could not spend the afternoon redesigning his myspace page, he sat with towels covering his head. I think he was texting under those towels, but he refused to budge off his spot. I did slide a juice box and some snacks under the towels which were silently accepted. (Please tell me that some day he won’t be fifteen anymore; I think he‘s been this age for three years…)

Emma is an arts and crafts beachcomber. She collects shells, “great rocks” (meaning weirdly shaped or super flat ones) and anything glittery or interesting. These usually get made into weird sculptures that she puts together with gorilla glue and acrylic paint. They look like mini gargoyles when she is done and we put them in the garden to keep the psychotic squirrel at bay. (He’s a squirrel who swings down from the branches and sits right near us when we are outside -- then he leaps back into the tree without warning and makes a screeching sound -- we never knew squirrels made sounds. They shouldn’t make sounds in case you’re wondering what he sounds like)

But most of the people on the beach are barges. I never understood this behavior, and I still don’t. They come down to the water in bathing suits, set up an umbrella and just sit there and watch everyone. I guess they watch crazy people like me shivering in the water. Occasionally, they turn their lounge chairs to or away from the sun, but they don’t get up too much. I guess everyone likes the beach, even non swimmers.

So what kind of beach visitor are you? A barge, a beachcomber, a plunger, a logician or a hermit crab?


Elizabeth Bradley said...

I'm with you, I am compelled to go INTO the water, even when I find myself at the beach when I didn't know I was going there, I end up getting my clothes wet.

Anne Spollen said...

So you are a plunge person, Elizabeth -- I hesitate to use the word "plunger" -- I'll have to come up with a better term.

Hardygirl said...

Barge. Definitely. I like to sit there and watch and listen.

We also have psychotic squirrels. They throw pecans at us from up in the trees. They do not drop them. They aim and throw them at us. I tried hanging a hammock under one of their claimed trees. Big mistake. I had pecan-sized bruises covering my forehead.


adrienne said...

I'm a plunger, although this summer things changed a bit when I learned (after 25 years on this coast) that there are stingrays in the water. Now I'm a shuffler/plunger.
And I still get the urge to make incredibly lopsided sandcastles.

Anne Spollen said...

Lol, SF. That's the Pecan Samurai Squirrel, found only in the American South. They are known to plot, especially when any type of nut is involved.

Shuffle/plunger, yes, they hug the shore for a while, Adrienne. I had a similar experience after reading about eels at an aquarium. I asked the fisherman on the dock if there were any in "our" water, and they showed me some right in their nets. A life altering experience, I must say.

Sandcastles, yeah. Emma comes in handy for that -- I pretend to make them for her...

M. Hillis said...

I would have to chose logician. I like to check the water temperatures, the tides and try to classify the various shells I spot on the beach.

As for swimming I am a barge. I can't remember ever swimming in the ocean but I do visit often.

-Merle Hillis

PS -- Thanks for The Shape of Water. You have no idea how much it meant to me.

Rick said...

After watching the various incarnations of "Jaws" 1-8, I've decided to walk through traffic in Detroit with my eyes closed- it seems somehow safer!

Carrie Harris said...

I'm a plunger. Sometimes I actually stop to take off my shoes, but generaly, I just kick 'em off and figure I'll find them later.

Your squirrels might be related to ours. Ours chatter incessantly. Sometimes they argue.

Mary Witzl said...

I'm a combination of you and your daughter. I tend to head straight for the water, swim until I can hardly see straight, then get out and hunt for rocks and shells for the next few hours. I've never understood people who can go to a beach and just park themselves; might as well do that at home and save yourself tracking home all that sand.

Anne Spollen said...

Glad you liked the book, Merle!

Lol, Rick, and thanks for stopping by. It does get a bit funky to look down and see a fish slipping by, but I guess it's part of the deal for plungers.

Yeh, Carrie, arguing squirrels. I just never realized they made noise. It's sort of the audio track of my nightmares, that squirrel sound.

I like the beachcombing aspect, too, Mary. But first you have to go in the water. Beachcombing is for when you can't swim another second, and a lot of times, you get your second wind after beachcombing.