Last week, I discussed movies, one of my favorite pastimes; this week’s topic is The Beach where I spent some of my most enjoyable summers.
During childhood, after a cold, snowy, New England winter and a slushy spring, the weather would grow deliciously warm. At June’s end, unburdened from school, we would chant, “No more lessons, no more books, no more teacher’s dirty looks.” Do children still voice that refrain? I have no idea.
For our family, summer usually meant a lodging at Nantasket, a five-mile expanse of glorious sandy beach located on the Nantasket Peninsula in Hull, Massachusetts. The ocean bed was so flat, it was possible to walk way out, through a long stretch of shallow water, before finding ourselves over our heads. In between sets of waves, breaking against our small bodies, we could paddle around with little worry of being dragged under water by the tide. And the waves were perfect–large enough for a joyous ride, but never p0werful enough to slam us to the bottom.
August was different; then the Atlantic brought tricky undertows that demanded respect and caused mother’s to watch carefully. Even so, the flat ocean bottom made it easier to maintain ones footing and escape to flat ground.
At all times during the season, the tide could carry you sideways a hundred yards or more, and when you emerged from the water, completely bewildered as to your whereabouts, the family blanket often proved difficult to locate–especially on Sundays, when visitors crowded the beach, blanket to blanket.
In the first few days, most of us suffered blistering sunburns, which peeled and morphed into deep tans. Years later those early sunburns frequently developed into worrisome skin problems, but back then, who knew that my freckled skin would produce unwelcome dark spots and potentially dangerous skin conditions.
The routine would be: wake-up, pull on a bathing suit, eat breakfast, walk a block or two to the beach, swim, play gin rummy, swim, learn bridge, knit, rip out knitting mistakes, swim, walk home for lunch. On the way back to the beach, we would buy an orange Creamsicle from the ice cream truck, then spend the afternoon repeating the swimming, the knitting, the card-playing. At day’s end, we would stand under an outdoor shower to wash off the sand.
After dinner, we would play more gin or stroll Nantasket Avenue to mingle with the crowds and buy sweets from bakeries that remained open until late in the evening. I had my first experience with exotic food, when my sister took me to a Chinese restaurant called, Priscilla’s (of all names) to eat a strange combination of Chop Suey dinner along with a delicious hot blueberry pie and ice cream desert, for which Priscilla’s was famous. I’m not making that up.
Today, January 29, we are blessed with a sunny, 77-degree day, and since I relish the sun in winter more than any other time of the year, I will save the subject of beaches for another blog and steal out to the patio. My Dermatologist warns against spending too much time in the sun, so, these days, I indulge myself for only fifteen minutes. How sad!
WATCH FOR FUTURE BLOGS ON BEACHES.