Sunday, November 04, 2018

Life's a Beach

 They say the road to hell is paved with good intentions. I'm always intending to blog more often. I start something then let it sit because there's nothing like a good night's sleep to help edit out stupidity when you revisit what you've written. Which is not to say that I catch all of it....Unfortunately it sometimes sits for a week, or two or three, or this time for four months!

And now it's the first of November.

Sat outside carving our Jack - O - Lantern yesterday, happy that summer's heat is gone, and our favorite part of the year is here. Jack sat by the front door glowing orangely, grinning his welcome to all the trick or treaters....

who never came. Not one solitary Ghost, Red Riding Hood, Mummy, Ogre, Harry Potter, Princess or Scarecrow. Sigh. I guess our long driveway is too daunting a trek for little legs. 

And now you're puzzled and wondering "What is she blathering on about and how has it anything to do with a beach?"
 The above was indeed just blathering. Here's the post I started back in September, that languished, unloved, in drafts while the OC, the purple suitcase and I gallivanted from sea to shining sea. But that's a tale for another post, which, I solemnly promise, will not take four months to materialize.  Fall weather notwithstanding, here's a post about my love of beaches.


 The class was over. I was ready for savasana.
Given a choice, I prefer silent savasana. Just let me lie there, melting into the mat, assuring myself that no, I'm not going to die today. With luck all these stretches, twists, balances and contortions will  help me live longer than sitting in my rocking chair, bemoaning the passage of time, listening to my chair and my joints creaking. I love yoga. But sometimes it's literally a stretch.
 Just breathe, I tell myself, and it works.

But today there's a guided meditation.

When everyone is settled - bolster anyone? blanket? eye pillow? Linda, our instructor, begins....

"Take a deep breath in.....sigh it out. When your mind wanders simply bring your attention back to the steady stream of your breath." 

Okay. Got it. Can we get back to quiet savasana now? But there was more.....

"Imagine yourself walking along your favorite seashore. The sand glistens in the sunshine, the waves lick at your toes...."

And that was all it took.
 My impatience evaporated and I was there, on the beach, any beach, breathing the salty air, feet sinking into the sand as the waves licked my toes.


When we went to the seaside as children, it was to the Atlantic. All agog, we'd strain our necks from the back seat of the Morris Minor, each of us eager to see the sea first.

We couldn't just gallop off down to the beach though. Mum and Dad had only two hands each, Mum reminded us. There were blankets to carry, towels, buckets and spades and the all-important picnic basket. Our patience was sorely tested while she rejected the first eight depressions in the dunes before, finally, declaring the ninth one perfect. We wriggled out of our clothes and into our swim togs  holding a towel around us lest we scandalize the seagulls.  

Then flew to the water,

like birds uncaged.

Me, a friend and the Little Blister at Ballybunion, circa 1958

The enormous waves, the rocky tide pools, the huge dome of the sky, the sweeping arcs of golden sand stretching off to infinity - freedom!

Pity the child never taken to the seaside.

Mother arranged blankets and towels in our dune nest while Dad set up our little stove to make tea. But we were off already, leaping over rocks like mountain goats, racing along the sand, splashing into the waves. We'd dare each other to go out further, then turn and race the waves back to shore, often toppled half way, then thrown up on the sand like so much seaweed, spluttering and shivering, eyes stinging, teeth chattering, squealing with terrified delight. 

Bracing, our mother called it. No matter how warm the sheltered dunes, the water was always icy.
But Dad's tea took care of that. We'd sit huddled in our blankets and the shelter of the dunes, nursing our goosebumps, eating our sandwiches and slurping that comforting, hot, sweet tea. And in no time at all we'd go racing to the water again.

When the sun started to sink we'd pile once more into the Morris Minor.
And start singing, every popular song we could think of. We belted out Itsy, Bitsy, Teeny, Weeny, Yellow Polka Dot Bikini, along with anything by Elvis Presley or Cliff Richard, and old favorites like My Grandfather's Clock, The Hole in the Bucket, Que Sera Sera, Row, Row, Row your Boat, How Much is that Doggie in the Window?

We never lasted all the way home. I'm sure our parents sighed with relief when the singing died down and the only sound from the back seat was gentle snoring from happy, salty, sand-encrusted children.


 This September we spent a few days at the beach with friends, by the Atlantic.
 We didn't leap over rocks or race to the water. No, we've become more sedate with the years, but we did swim every day, and walked on the beach and sat reading in the shade.

Every evening, marvelous food.  We usually go to the beaches on the Gulf which is warm as bathwater, shallow and calm. The best part of this trip was the Atlantic, not so shallow, not so calm.

Real waves.

Out beyond where the waves break, swimming, floating, rolling with dips and swells, touching bottom only at the fullest stretch of my toes, the rhythm of the universe pounding in my ears. So peaceful, so humbling. The things that keep me awake at night, which loom large in my little life, shrink before the vastness of the sea. Things will work out, I tell myself, gazing east to where a little piece of me will always be. A mere ocean away.


A muffled sound, as from the far side of a cloud, a voice, Linda's, floats into my daydream -

"See the shining color of the water, how the light sparkles on it,"

and the Little Blister's smiling face comes into focus in my dream.

The Little Blister and me a few years ago at Bishop's Quarter

Is she walking along the beach at Bishop's Quarter I wonder, even as I'm lying here on my mat thinking of her? And suddenly my eyes are leaking down into my ears and I give silent thanks for the eye pillow. Why am I weeping when I have so much to be grateful for? Trouble is, the world, for all its recent shrinkage, is still too big and people I love too far away. Birthdays with zeros get you thinking that way. Recent events in Tallhassee too. What I said back there about dying from exertion? A joke.
No one goes to yoga class expecting to die there.
No one lies down in savasana (corpse pose) expecting it to be permanent.
 If those who died in Tallahassee love beaches, I hope heaven is the most beautiful beach ever.


Linda often ends her classes with this quote -
May you be well,
May you be happy and peaceful,
May you be free from all suffering, 
May you be filled with loving kindness. 

And while you live, may you be lucky enough to spend part of each year on the beach.



Elephant's Child said...

Oh my.
Oh my, oh my, oh my.
This is a BEAUTIFUL post. Well worth waiting for. It triggered memories (we sang every one of those songs) and it plucked at my heart strings. And made my eyes leak.
It is too long since I have seen/smelt/heard/felt the ocean.

Marigold Jam said...

Good to see a post from you again - you always make me think and remember too. Loved it and felt sad that you are so far fom your Atlantic beach. I too feel sorry for those who never knew a day at the beach as a child nor even in some cases time spent in the woods and fields memories of which come back more often these days to those of us who have had plenty of birthdays ending with an O!!! It is our childhood that comes back to us which has been the making of who we are don't you think? I am lucky enough to live not far from Weymouth which has it all especially after the summer holidays are over when the beach is packed on a fine day but I love to go when thee ae only a couple of dog walkers to be seen, the donkeys home in their stables the childrren and holidaymakes back in their schools and jobs till Easter time and the ice cream shops closed fo the winter. You have inspied mne to write a post after such a long time - mmmn maybe I will.

Wisewebwoman said...

Keep blogging my friend, this post brought huge memories of West Cork and all the sand and salt and huddled under towels and blankets and dashing into the Wild Atlantic and out again and back until our fingers and toes were white and we tried not to let our teeth chatter as we'd be made to go get dressed and cover up. Oh my.

thank you.


Pauline said...

Such a lovely two-for-one post! I feel I've been away from blogging forever, but am cheered to see I'm not the only one who plans a comeback and that many of my old reads are still in process. I get at least one visit to either the Pacific or the Atlantic each year and you're right - the sussing of waves on sand, the salt in the air, the heat and the screaming gulls work magic.

Susan Kane said...

What a trip. Beaches! We stayed in a B & B on the Dingle Peninsula, 30 years ago. What clear water, beautiful place.

Colette said...

I'm deeply moved by this post, Molly. And I find comfort in the beach pictures. What complicated lives we live in this crazy world.

molly said...

EC - Thank you. I think the ocean touches something elemental in us.

MJ - I look forward to reading it!

WWW - You obviously know exactly what it was like. Did home seem to have shrunk for you, as it did for me, after the vastness of sky and ocean at the seaside?

Pauline - The heat is a nice bonus at US beaches - though I think the lack of it keeps Irish beaches beautiful. I don't miss the goosebumps and the chattering teeth at all!

SK - I'd like to go there the next trip home. The furthest south beach we went to as children was Ballybunion. There's so much of Ireland I still haven't seen.

Secret Agent Woman said...

Ballybunion? Really?

I have some wonderful memories of childhood beach trips and took my own every year when they were growing up. The ocean is healing, I believe.

Sabine said...

This is very moving and brings back so many memories. Ballybunion was my very first Irish beach in 1976. I had no idea about Ireland and as it was a spectacular summer, I thought that this was paradise.
And many years, many Irish "summers" later, it's still as wonderful, even on a windy day.
The Atlantic is special.

Thank you.

molly said...

SAW - Yes, there were squeals of delight from our kids too when they were growing up and we lived in CA when we'd decide it was a good day for the beach. I think kids plus water is a recipe for happiness, not just when we're little, but for the little kid that lives inside us all. Germany was where I saw that put into practice - they have the most creativity-stimulating playgrounds I've seen anywhere, always including both simple and complicated water play.

Sabine - and didn't the days seem blissfully never-ending?

SmitoniusAndSonata said...

You've made me want to go back to Killiney again … or Brittas Bay for a special treat! It's odd, it can't always have been glorious weather but that's how I remember it with, at most, a breeze (despite quite a few photos of a handful of windswept children and resolute aunts.)

gz said...

I missed your post! ((away that weekend)
A lovely way to do savasana.
So many seaside memories, mostly with my father,from yeas back,now with friends..ah,the beaches on the Western Isles...

Thimbleanna said...

Your yoga class sounds like mine -- just perfect. I call that end quote the little blessing that our teacher gives to us before we depart ways each week. What a beautiful post Molly -- and one that gives me a new appreciation of the sea. XO

Dee said...

Dear Molly, This is a lovely posting, filled with appreciation not only of the beach and surf but on your sister and your family who raised you to be aware and to be grateful. Those two qualities, I believe, serve us well as we age. I've been to the beach only once
in my life when I visited Charleston, South Carolina back in 1971. And yet, I know exactly what it means to you because I grew up on a far with a wide creek wending through it. A creek with little waterfalls and bubbling water, slippery rocks, and gentle bends. It is there I always go in my mediations. There I lie, my head resting against Arthur, my imaginary lion friend, my feet dangling in the water. From water we came and in it I find myself again.

Thank you so much for this posting. Peace.

Anonymous said...

When I read your piece about going to the beach, and seeing that
your from Limerick, I knew before I saw the photo you
were talking about Ballyb. Not my favourite.

However, we are blessed in Kerry with beautiful beaches especially Fenit
and of course Caherciveen/Waterville.
From my little corner of the universe to yours

molly said...

Jan - What a pleasant surprise to see your comment today. I confess to being intrigued! Do I know you? I do have a friend named Jan but she doesn't live in Kerry. How did you find me, and do you have a blog too? Maybe this is my nudge to get scribbling again....

Anonymous said...

No Molly, we don't know each other. I accidentally came across your
blog and when I saw Molly Bawn chronicles curiosity got the better
of me and I clicked on it and decided to break my rule
of not leaving a comment.
I couldn't resist.


molly said...

Jan - I'm glad you couldn't resist! Why the rule about not commenting if you like to read? Maybe you should post something yourself. I'd love to read a blog by someone living in Kerry...The head nun at my school was from Kerry. Quite a character, Sr. Margaret, but known to one and all as The Mag. They threw away the mold after they made her, more's the pity, though we didn't necessarily think that until years later.