Today is a perfect summer’s day with hot sun and cool breezes. One of those lazy days that remind me of growing up in a seaside community each summer, where everyone lived on ‘beach time’ and planned the day around tidal charts. The days were long and unhurried, the air was always fresh, the sky and ocean met in a thin line at the edge of the universe and the ceaseless ebb and flow of waves on the shore sounded the rhythm of life.
High tide was to swim and launch the boat. Low tide was to explore tidal pools, gather periwinkles and walk the beach for what seemed like miles. It was possible to stand on large rocks as big as VW bugs that had been completely submerged in many feet of water just a few hours before. The ocean bottom was revealed!
How innocently extravagant it was to take long walks on the beach and spend hours lounging on the porch reading and watching the sailboats! My dad didn’t seem to mind that he worked long hours in the city, so I could enjoy a summer’s day every day.
Decades later, it’s surprising how many times I find myself drifting back to those past summers, when memories are stirred by the morning sun flashing past the fluttering shade or a smoky grille.
Sometimes I drift off into a completely different direction when I hear the drone of a lawnmower two streets off or the fast clicking of a neighbor’s sprinkler going round and round. These are the sounds of summers not spent at the beach, but looking out of my bedroom window high on a hill, when I was about six or seven. It was when the dads came home to mow and water the lawns before dark, while dinner cooked in the kitchen and we kids finished up projects for the day in our rooms or at the kitchen table.
I preferred the quiet of my room, with my desk by the window (much like it is today!) where I could overlook the entire neighborhood and pretend to soar over rooftops to the hills beyond. Our house was halfway up a hill and my second floor bedroom was higher than the apple tree in the front yard. From this vantage point, I could silently observe everything in one vast sweep, mesmerized to see the world in action below.
I watched as the dads returned home from their mysterious places and the kids played ball and the horses paced in their paddock. Like the watchmen of the Middle Ages, I kept an eye on things.
Never did I think how imbedded in my brain these seemingly insignificant heartbeats of life would become and how effortlessly they would come back to life from the faintest summer wind.
Maybe my dad knew. Maybe he knew if he worked hard so I could experience total freedom to notice the fresh air and cool breezes, to hear the waves and see how gracefully sailboats glide off shore and discover how books cause time to pass without notice, or that sprinklers click and whirl, that one day many years hence I would remember every detail and enjoy it all over again. On a day when I am working late and have no idea what to write about as I sit at my desk by the window and the breezes scatter the papers on my desk.