A Week at the Beach With the Family Is Good for the Soul
There’s nothing quite like the restorative powers of a week at the beach with family to help adjust the soul. Nothing to do, and all day to do it.
Every morning early, a nice young man comes down the beach in a small pickup truck. Behind him, he tows a trailer filled with canvas-covered wooden beach chairs and sturdy umbrellas. We’ve rented eight of each for the week, and when we’re ready for the sun, he has them all set up, and we need only cross the boardwalk over the dunes and plunk ourselves down.
At low tide, the water is a football field away. At high tide, the waves break and roll right up through our chairs and almost reach the dunes. Our beachgoers unanimously report that they like to swim when the tide is high because of the long walk, but also because the little ones have spotted jellyfish in the sand when the tide’s out, and there seems to be more seaweed to step on. This frightens them.
Our horde this year includes 19, ranging in age from 74 down to the 4-year-old twins. It’s long been a tradition with my wife’s family that my very generous father-in-law finds someplace warm to gather all the relations together, and all we need to do is get there. Over the years, we’ve been to some really idyllic spots, like Jamaica, St. Croix and the Bahamas.
Lately, though, with the grandkids busy at athletics, school work and music lessons, it’s become more difficult to get the whole kit ’n’ caboodle to those faraway places, so we’ve been staying on the beaches of Georgia, North and South Carolina. This year, Poppy (my father-in-law), found us a wonderful house on Kiawah Island, S.C.
Even with eight bedrooms, the kids are a little packed in, but no one seems to mind, because everyone is so glad to see each other and have this opportunity to be together.
I come back to think about this as the week lazily passes on and marvel at just how important family is. We tend to get so caught up in the minutiae, the rat race of life, that it takes times like these, time-outs with those closest to you, to remind you that life is oh-so-short, and that the best times are with those who love each other the most.
There was big excitement early the other morning when my mother-in-law — we call her Bunkie — spotted from her second-floor room, which looks right out at the beach, four elderly folks peering into the dunes. Wondering what that was all about, she went down to investigate.
Turns out, the elders were members of a turtle patrol. The previous night, a mother sea turtle had deposited 126 eggs into a hole directly in front of our house. According to the turtle stewards, she had not planted them high enough into the dunes. Worried that the ocean would carry the eggs away before they’d hatched, they had excavated the hole, and wearing gloves, were in the process of moving the brood higher up the shore.
A long-time volunteer at the Smithsonian museum, Bunkie was fascinated. The turtle patrol took one of the eggs, which they will ship to the University of Georgia for DNA testing. Apparently, the efforts to stabilize and increase the populations of sea turtles have now been going on long enough that once the egg’s DNA is established, they’ll know who the mother is and then be able to further track the migratory history of the mother and all sorts of other things.
Well, it’s time to head to the beach for the last full day in paradise. I’ll leave with a word about summer reading lists. Pack something light. I brought the book I was reading at home, “Modern Times,” by British historian Paul Johnson.
The book is a fascinating look at the human embrace of moral relativism and how that shaped events of the 20th century. I decided to put it down after reading a chapter titled “The Devils,” which introduced the reader to Messrs. Stalin and Hitler. Not family men these two, and they became unwanted guests at this beach week that’s all about family.
Geoff Cutler is owner of Cutler Tree LLC in Southern Pines and is a regular contributor to The Pilot and PineStraw magazine. Contact him at email@example.com.
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