Sunday was a dreary, rainy, foggy day—perfect for an ocean day. That’s when the beaches are empty; no crowds, no loud rap music, no endless ‘thwap, thwap’ of volleyball games, no screaming kids—just the sound of the wind and surf. So the Crankee Yankee and I took off to enjoy an ocean day. The skies were a steely gray, and the waves were green-gray as they came rumbling up on the sand. Endless vistas of rounded, surf-carved stones in black, gray, taupe, brown and white were piled up at the surf line, along with ropes of kelp and seaweed.
The Atlantic ocean is cold, heartless, rough, and swiftly punishes carelessness. When the waves come in, they surge in with a vengeance. It’s as if they are well aware that they can snatch you right off the beach if they care to, and tumble you into their depths if you’re not careful. They mutter and murmur grumpily to each other, and grudgingly toss up a battered slipper shell or two. Sometimes if they are in a good mood, they may offer you the treasure of bits of well-tumbled gleaming sea glass.
I have collected this treasure all my life. While you can find the rare cobalt blue or ruby red glass from time to time, the more common colors are browns, light and dark green, white and light blue, and occasionally, aqua. I have consolidated a lifetime’s worth of them in a large glass ginger jar lamp, where they look like crown jewels; rare and precious.
We stopped at one of our favorite spots for a hot dog, ran back to the warm car and enjoyed our ‘beach lunch.’ We drove across the street to watch the waves come in, and I buttoned up my raincoat to get out and walk the beach. The Crankee Yankee stayed in the car to read the paper.
Even though I was chilled to the bone, I thoroughly enjoyed my windy walk, stopping to admire or pick up a pretty rock or shell. Every so often I would stand at the surf’s edge, staring out at the pearl-gray horizon. I imagined all the life in that ocean, from the tiny plankton to the great white sharks and whales. While I love the ocean, I respect it more—I am a visitor and admirer, not a dweller.
There are days when only walking along the shore of the ocean will do—or even if all I do is to smell the salt air and see the ocean from a car. There is something elemental, raw and honest about our Atlantic ocean. It gives you that smack of salt-flavored wind, that vast vista of water and sky as far as the eye can see—you feel both lifted up and diminished by it. All I know is that, once I come home from an ocean day, I am scooped out, free from worry or grief, and lifted up somehow. It is as if my spirit has been washed clean and dried in the sun and the wind.
An ocean day is always a good day.