The other day, we ventured down to Capt. Roger Wheeler State Beach (aka Sand Hill Cove although there is no cove or hill to speak of) to let our grandson enjoy the pleasures of covering himself in sand and seaweed and ingesting whatever tasty morsels he could uncover in the sand and thrust into his mouth before I could extract them.
As I was making my third trip from the car, it occurred to me that the logistics of my beach experiences have changed considerably since my days of beach expeditions at 16 or 17. I don’t even recall hauling this much stuff when we took my daughter to the beach.
The logistics for the landing at Normandy were simpler.
Back in 1972, all that was required was a car to get there. Towels, blankets, chairs(never) were optional. Once we’d acquired the mandatory altered driver’s license attesting to our faux legal status as adults, a supply of cold beer was essential.
Had we had to choose between blankets and chairs or the beer, well, you know the answer to that.
Sunscreen was something we never even considered. On the contrary, we wore our sunburns and peeling skin as proof of our time in the sun. So far, that hasn’t come back to haunt us.
But back to 2022. After laying out a beach covering assigned to us by our daughter—a covering I might add that could be used during a rain delay on the infield at any major league ball field—arranging chairs, setting up the tent-like structure, and distributing the myriad toys, the real work began.
Trying to get a fifteen-month-old who has fully embraced his newfound skill of walking (albeit a bit like the exodus of a bar after last call) to cooperate while one covers him with sunblock on every square inch of his wriggling, arching, leg-flailing, arm-waving body is an exercise in futility. Within seconds he is coated with a layer of sand which either enhances the sun block or magnifies the sun rays.
Then, after he skillfully avoids spending any time on our carefully covered acre of beach, he drags me to the water’s edge where he spends time examining each rock, selecting it, picking it up, glancing at me to see if he could manage a quick taste, shuffling to stand in the seaweed engorged waves, throwing the rock into the water, then repeating this act with the obvious goal of returning EVERY rock back to the ocean. (Do you know how many rocks there are at Sand Hill Cove?)
Soon the responsibility of our duty to care for him kicks in and we have to extract him from the beach and the sun. He let’s out a few last squeals of excitement at passing seagulls, airplanes flying by, or at anything else that catches his eye.
We make the first of several trips back to the car, my wife getting him settled into the car seat and topping him off with a bottle or one of those squeeze packages of squished mush with the strangest combinations of ingredients (bananas, apples, and peas? Really?) while I trudge back, disassemble our bivouac site, roll up the infield covering, and reload the car.
Infinitely more complicated than the beach days of 1972, but whoever said a simple life is the best life never had the pleasure of a beach day with my grandson.
Yet despite the difference in the logistics, and while I know the endless summer days of my youth were memorable, these memories are some of the best one’s to hold onto for a lifetime.