The Beach Effect

Harry Beach

I am back from a week-long vacation.  It kicked off with a weekend at the Woodenboat Show in Mystic, CT and ended with me at my wife’s family’s house on Cape Cod, MA. And what a week it was. The house was pretty quiet for the first couple days, but by Thursday it was a nut house.  We ended up with 5 families and 16 kids mostly 8 and under including 16 of the 17 of my in-laws’ grand kids. I wanted to share some observations I made over the course of the week that truly brought a smile to my face.

The Ocean and Kids.  Even to an adult who has seen it countless times, the ocean is still captivating. We sit in chairs on the beach and watch and listen to the gentle waves rolling up on the sand. We stare out to the horizon and wonder how far we can see.  We watch a barge float by in the distance and wonder what it’s like out there.  It soothes us, inspires us, and fascinates us.  To a child that is discovering these things for the first time, those emotions are boundless.  I took a look around the beach this weekend and was entertained by how differently each generation was seeing the beach.

  • My 19 month old son was simply amazed by the point where the water meets the land.  He spent hours running down the beach, splashing in just over his ankles, and then running away from the incoming waves.
  • Next was my son Harry (6).  He and his cousin (6) are very athletic and as energetic as two young boys can be.  They search for the sport in everything.  The ocean brings them waves for Boogie Boarding or a cushion to land on when diving for a ball.  They want to wrestle and karate chop the waves and each other and then see how fast they can run down the shoreline.
  • My daughter Maggie is 8 and her cousin Jack is 9.  They are a little less athletically inclined but rather thinkers and creators. They build sand castles and roam the shore in search of treasures and sea creatures.  They are just starting to have that same peaceful contemplation that the ocean brings to the adults, but it is just a fleeting thought that causes them to pause their activities for a moment or two.
  • My brother-in-law then has three kids from 14-17.  The youngest likes to dabble with each group of kids enjoying each group’s activity for awhile.  The older two are sliding gently into adulthood.  They can sit on the beach for hours and simply soak in the warm rays of the sun or read a book.  They may visit the younger kids for a few minutes, but it is mostly just in passing or if one of the adults asks them to watch them.
  • All the while, the adults watch the kids, watch the water, take in the sounds and sun and pleasure of it all.  We quietly count our blessings and think about how lucky we are to have such beautiful children in such a beautiful place and smile at the simple things through their eyes.

The beach is a simple place where the ocean meets the land but it brings with it both the simplest of simple satisfaction and a vast complexity of emotions.  Bundled in your head with this variety of thought provoking scenery is a warming calmness that makes you sink a little deeper into your old rickety beach chair and softly sigh through a pleasing smile.

Thank you for reading!




One Response to The Beach Effect

  1. Well written and it brings to the mind the very sensations and dreamy spaciness it is describing. Our family has had a beach house on the other side of the Cape (bay side) since about 1925, and since 1950 when I came on the scene, we’ve had many summers with dozens of extended family just like you describe. So when I say it is well written, I know something about it.

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