May 24, 2016

Things I Learned At The Beach

My husband and I have been married for 32 years.  Our honeymoon destination was a beach front room in Virginia Beach where we spent nearly a week playing on the beach and swimming in the ocean, among other things. It was a week of firsts including my first time to see/swim in salt water...which means it was my first time to be stung by a jellyfish!  This experience made a big impression on was very painful.  So, I haven't been in a hurry to go back.

First let me say that it was a mistake not to plan some sort of annual family vacation.  There were a few trips here and there but we allowed lack of time/responsibilities/lack of finances to limit us. Now, I'm not saying that it's alright to be irresponsible but find a way to carve out the means to get away even if it is a week of camping.  Staycations always turn into work weeks.  Get away!

So, back to my story.  Our oldest daughter, who married a missionary over a year ago, is expecting our first grandchild in December.  We are soooo excited!  It's always been my husband's dream to go on a long vacation out West to see all the sights.  We were going to go that route this year because if all goes as planned, our missionaries will be leaving for Africa in the spring.  But with a little one on the way, we thought a destination that was a little closer to civilization would be a better choice.  A relaxing mid-September week at the beach sounded perfect and it was.

Here are some things I learned at the beach.

If you need it, take it with you, including all your food.  Seven Mile Island is a strip of sand dunes separated from land by a salt marsh.  During the vacation season, there are lots of little shops, etc. but after Labor Day, most of them are closed or are selling out their stock for the season.  Finding a grocery store was not easy and we didn't see a gas station on the island. Take lots of water or a filter pitcher.

Vacation is not the time to experiment with DIY sunscreen!   I am fair skinned and don't spend a lot of time in the sun.  For the most part, I burn and then it goes tan.  Bummer!  My girls and husband tan very easily and don't often burn.  I made a homemade sunscreen to take on vacation without testing it ahead of time.  I'm sure that it is very effective under normal outdoor conditions but I'm also sure that I did not reapply it nearly often enough to protect me from the hot, reflective sun at the beach.

Be prepared with DIY sunburn remedy ingredients!  Thankfully, I had what I needed to take the heat out of some very sensitive, painful sunburned skin.  A little lavender essential oil in some water really made a nice compress that quickly eased the discomfort.

Note to husband...even if you could stay out in the sun all day without sunscreen as a teenager, your skin is more sensitive 30 years later and the beach is different.  Sun reflecting off of the sand and water amplifies the tanning/burning action of the sun.

Dolphins and porpoises are not the same.  You may think this is an obvious statement but it's not something we thought about.  We just assumed that the large fish we saw jumping out of the water and swimming parallel to the shore were dolphins.  A local told us that they were porpoises and that they have been known to save people from shark attacks.  That made me feel two things at once. First, SHARKS?  And second, how nice that these fish would go out of their way to save people. And third, SHARKS?  Porpoises have a shorter snout, curved dorsal fin, more portly body shape than dolphins and are less talkative.  They were so beautiful!

Don't underestimate the power of the waves!  After playing in the waves and floating through the crests for several days, I thought I knew how the surf acted.  Most of the crests and rollers that came in behind me were spaced out and I could brace myself against the waves coming up behind me as I headed back to the sand.  But one larger, double crest caught me unaware and hit me mid a kidney shot.  It kind of took my breath away and left me with an aching back and neck for days afterward.  The sea really is unpredictable!

Don't take for granted the time you have with family!  Just a short while ago, our girls were small and we had so many adventures together!  Now our time is limited and soon, we'll be half a world away from one of them.  You can't get those times back so make memories that you can keep in your heart.  And make time for your spouse, be intentional, because when the children are grown, you don't want to have to get to know them all over again.

The beach is peaceful but not quiet!  If you are looking for a quiet vacation, the beach is not the answer.  The roar of the breakers hitting the shore, the seagulls hovering over the waves calling back and forth, the whisper or whistle of the ever present wind, the rustle of dune grasses, make a loud cacophony of noise that surrounds you all the time.  And yet, it is a peaceful place that seems to make time stand still.

Things I learned at the Beach

Foam riffles along the surf
chases tiny seabirds to and fro
Little clams dig vigorously,
empty shells wash ashore,
Seagulls scream greedily,
over sand and over sea
Sun beats down to warm
the water, the sand and me
Wind whistles, sand blows,
dunes grow, tides turn
Porpoises jump, boats pass,
surfers ride, swimmers float
Kites fly, clouds sail,
children squeal, I begin to peel.
Breakers roar, peace reigns,
time slows, memories made.

 Pondering My Meanderings... with much herbal love, Wanderer

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