Beach Bum

By Liz, packing a cooler, umbrella and some beach towels!

I’m on vacation this week, which means I’m in beach mode. I’ve always been a beach bum – I love the sound of the waves, the feel of the sand, the seagulls, the startling cold of the water the first time I’m brave enough to jump in. I love boogie boarding and sacking out in a chair with a good book and some snacks. I also love the beach at sunset, when everyone’s clearing out and we can sneak the dogs in for a quick swim. Beach

The beach has been a huge part of my life ever since I was a kid. I remember waking up on sunny summer days, hopeful that my mother would utter the magic words: “Get your bathing suit on!” On those days, we’d pack the cooler super early and head out to Salisbury Beach, about a twenty-minute drive from our house in Methuen. My mother had a friend named Mrs. Margraff, who let us park at her waterfront house and claim a spot on “her” beach. I don’t think I ever met Mrs. Margraff, but she was one of my favorite people ever for opening her magical beach house to us.

I have so many memories of those days that return every time I hit the sand: the anticipation of climbing up the walkway toward the dunes, knowing that once I reached the top of the sand the miles and miles of ocean would take my breath away; the friends I made; the hours of swimming turning my fingers into wrinkly prunes. As I got older, the memories changed – “cruising” the Hampton Beach strip with high school pals, volleyball on the beach with friends, stolen Saturdays when I’d sneak away alone with a pile of books to keep me company on the sand. 

I still try to go as often as I can. Living in Connecticut, I haven’t been able to embrace the beaches here. The Sound is beautiful, but I need waves. Rhode Island has some beautiful beaches, and it also has the Cliff Walk – one of my favorite places of all times. It’s a path built into the cliff above the ocean, behind some of the famed Newport mansions. It’s seen some erosion over time, but it’s still one of the most amazing places on earth. 

oceanI’m also lucky enough once a year to visit Old Orchard Beach in Maine, when the Wickeds gather on our yearly retreat at Jessie’s. I’m so grateful to her for opening her doors and for giving me another view of the ocean. 

There’s just something about the beach, no matter what time of day or time of year. It’s soul-renewing, it’s inspiring, it’s grounding. It’s the place I can always go to find answers and know they’ll be there, if I just wait long enough.

Readers, what’s your happy place?


21 Thoughts

  1. Also the beach! We were at Salisbury Beach two days ago, with all my favorite people (except the Wickeds!). At just before sunset, we all stood or sat silently at water’s edge, with almost no waves, and just listened. It was magical.

    1. Edith, we used to go to Salisbury Beach when I was a little girl. I love the white sand. Saw my first horseshoe crab there. Great memories.

  2. When I was young, my family would rent a place on Long Beach Island (New Jersey) for a couple of weeks in the summer. We lived in Pennsylvania, and the ride across NJ seemed endless to me then. What was so nice was making the final approach, when you could just see the sand dunes at the end of the road and know that the whole country ended right there. Alas, I’m married to a man who grew up in landlocked Indiana, and he just doesn’t get it. And let’s not talk about the sunburns, back when we didn’t know any better. But I agree about the waves! My father taught me how to body-surf and I still love it.

    1. I’ll go to the beach with you, Sheila! We just got a free lifetime pass to Salisbury Beach (benefits of someone in the house being 65) – come on up. You, too, Liz!

  3. I love the beach, too. Considering I live in Southern California, I don’t go often enough.

    However, I also love the redwood forests. I grew up camping in them and really appreciate the smells and the quiet and the calm. Unfortunately, we don’t have any of those in So Cal. But my family still camps at the one I grew up camping at the most, and so I still get to go occasionally.

      1. Ok, camping is one thing NOT on my to-do list, Mark! It sounds lovely but I just know it’s not my thing 🙂 However, camping on the beach would rock!

      2. Edith are you kidding? We used to camp at the Lodgepole campground in Sequoia! Steve and I lived about an hour’s drive from there for a long time. This is getting odd.

  4. I was in 8th grade the first time I went to a beach — that’s what happens when you grow up in Iowa. It was love at first sight. Since then I’ve been lucky enough to live in a house that overlooked the ocean in San Pedro, California, near the ocean in Monterey, California, the most beautiful place I’ve lived, near the beach in Shalimar, Florida and 45 minute drive when we lived in Bedford, Massachusetts.

  5. I love the beach, too. Both sets of grandparents had places at the beach–Sea Girt, New Jersey and Watermill, Long Island and I spent weeks with each of them every summer. In a couple of weeks my family and my brother’s are gathering in Stone Harbor, New Jersey. Ten adults and two toddlers! Can’t wait.

  6. Liz, my best comfort place would have to be Fort Beach in Marblehead. It was near our house when I was young. I learned to swim there and spent many hours sitting on the flat rock watching the water, and the sky, and the boats in the harbor. Today, if I were there, I would sit on that same rock with a giant fried clam roll in one hand and a coke in the other, and I would do the very same things that I did when I was a girl.

    1. 🙂 I guess I should have said that is my happy place, but comfort and happy are the same for me now. xox

      1. Reine, agree completely. And I love Marblehead. I went to college in Salem and used to drive over there all the time. Bliss.

  7. Liz, that’s great! My great-grandmother lived right down Lafeyette Street from Salem State. Is that where you went to school? I used to walk past on my way to visit and watched the progress on the innovative biology building there. I was in a Marblehead Little Theatre production of The Crucible there. Lots of good memories!

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