Craving fresh air, we head to the beach on a particularly fine winter day in Southern California. We do not go often, and yet we live within a 30-minute drive. The beach this day is gloriously empty.
The best part about the ocean is that she doesn’t change much. She’s so rare. And yet she doesn’t care. But to be fair, there’s so much to spare, whether it’s this ocean here or an ocean anywhere, she’s just there.
Take off your shoes and roll up your jeans. Approach the water like a merchant marine. Start with one toe, and then dip the other nine. After a while, you will feel sublime. You might pick up a rock, and taking a firm grip, toss it sideways and count the skips. My brother was good. He could do five or six.
The beaches are crowded in the summer months. Oh, and parking is diabolically difficult. The locals know to carpool and to come early.
If you go in the summer, you’ll see wall-to-wall sunbathers, families, boys, girls, men, and women. Umbrellas of all sizes, shapes, and colors dot the beach. People mostly just hang out. Read. Play. Talk. Eat. Relax. Seagulls hang around trying to look bored but give themselves away when a morsel of food drops. “Mine, mine, mine,” they seem to say. The best idea is to stay out of their way.
If the wind is just right, you might see kites fluttering in the sky. Don’t you like kites?
Be ready to smile as you watch the children splashing and playing in the waves. They don’t seem to feel the cold or get tired of being sandy, salty, and wet. I miss being a kid.
Almost any time of the year at certain posted beaches, you’ll see big dogs, little dogs, and medium-sized dogs of all kinds, on and off leash. It’s a sniffer’s heaven. They all seem to love being at the ocean.
We think the ocean doesn’t care. But she secretly likes visitors. I think so, or why would she be so inviting all the time? She even likes surfers.
Skip out sometime. Take your dog, your kids, and anyone else that needs a nature hit down to the nearest ocean. Or a lake. Or a park. Skip out. Take a break. It’ll do you some good.