Saturday, August 11, 2012

Child's play

John Anthony, 6, walks along the shore. (Photo by John D'Arpino)

I opened the email with the subject line "Fun at Fogland," and there were photographs of two beautiful children playing at the beach.

“You know how grandparents are … my 2 youngest,” wrote John D'Arpino, a Tiverton resident and follower of this blog.

Consequently, the pictures triggered memories of me and my little brother. As children, we lived here in our own little world by the sea.

These days it is difficult to recapture the utter joy and timelessness of childhood and eradicate the noise and obligations of the adult world. But I try.

Yet, sometimes when I invite someone to visit our summer house for the first time, I am able to see the world again through child’s eyes.

This week I spent a day at the beach with Beth, a dear friend and colleague.

Even after all these years, I am still drawn to the simple beauty of this town, the white country church, the winding stone walls, the first glimpse of the sparkling Sakonnet surrounded by farmland as you make the hairpin turn on Fogland Road.

So I understood perfectly when Beth got lost, passing by Four Corners Grille where we were to meet for lunch, because she was captivated by the scenery.

Isabella, 8 (John D'Arpino)
Arriving at the beach house, we parked on the front lawn and slowly ambled along the little streets. We sat on the bench overlooking the Sakonnet, offering a panoramic view of the seacoast of four towns, Tiverton, Little Compton, Middletown and Newport.

Then we walked the seashore, and I took her back in time to my childhood days of endless sunny summer hours – swimming and jumping the waves, netting crabs in the salt marsh, climbing in the boat at the crack of dawn, fishing for flounder, digging for clams in muddy waters at low tide, reading under a shady tree and sometimes doing nothing at all.

In the company of seagulls and sandpipers, we sat on a boulder, where we seemed sadly out of place.

The world we inhabit together is not at all like this; it is noisy and hyperactive.

In the Newsroom, we are bombarded with the sounds of scanners, TVs, striking keyboards, ringing phones and a barrage of voices conducting interviews.

Moreover, there are the deadlines to contend with, which motivate us to work faster and faster.

We sit near each other and rarely have time to talk.

But here at the seashore, we lose track of time as we converse; and there are pleasant spaces of silence, where we are content to just listen to the crash and fall of the waves.

“If you carry your childhood with you, you never become older,” wrote British playwright Tom Stoppard.  

Perhaps one of the special gifts the sea offers is this freedom to be our younger selves, free of entanglements and open to possibilities like a child at play.

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