Thursday, May 29, 2014

field notes

We’ve lived at the water’s edge for the past six and a half years. We walk the beach in rain, hoods up, and in hard wind while spent waves erratically flood the beach, occasionally filling our boots. We roll snow, whenever we have it, down the trail to the beach, creating robust snowmen and women silhouetted by the sea. Bull kelp, when we find it, becomes whips in the boys’ hands. Nelly chases gulls until she’s neck-high in the water. One of these days we’ll find out if she can swim.

Every tide, sand and rocks re-distribute themselves. New bits of sea glass are washed ashore, along with barnacle-encrusted shells, driftwood, chunks from styrofoam coolers, weathered cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon, lone flip flops, rusted gardening shears, plastic bags, golf balls, triangular-shaped plastic sandwich boxes. At low tide, anemones pockmark the sand; sea stars are ever-present in their usual spots. Tiny crabs scurry away; large ones menace in their ninja poses.

Alexi had to work over the long weekend. The rest of us spent a lot of it on the beach, and one morning, we encountered a family of geese. They alternated between ignoring us and staring.

Another morning, after making and eating our fill of pancakes, it was time to walk Nelly. Abbott didn’t want to come – “I have some annotating to do” – but I insisted. Once we were outside, he strode briskly past us, disappearing from view at the point where the beach curves. I missed him as I fretted about whether or not I had done the right thing by him. The slant of the pale morning sun shifted as the minutes passed, and I continued to wonder if standing firm about his need for exercise was worth it. Some time later, as Nelly and Cal ran circles around me, climbed, and dug, Abbott re-appeared in the distance. My stomach clenched at his approach; I braced myself. But he grinned as he reached us; said he just got absorbed in the walking, and asked if it was OK if he went on home. It's funny how all of a sudden things can turn toward better, without your being able to put your finger on how it happened. Or maybe I over-react. Maybe, the whole point of it all is the learning about each other, ourselves, this family thing, together, by inches.


Denise Parsons said...

Yes, by inches. And then when we think we understand, someone changes. More inches. I suppose enjoying the process is the way to go, sometimes easier said than done. Cheers to beach walks with those we love!

tea_austen said...

So lovely.
I think beach walks are my family's religion. Or a big part of it, at least. x

Lecia Phinney said...

Denise: yes!

Tara: xoxo

beth lehman said...

inch by inch we learn about each other... and it seems like when we think we have it figured out something changes (or someone grows). i'm always amazed at how nature restores us and soothes whatever savage beast is lurking about... lovely images and such lovely words.