In 1969 my family bought a parcel of land by the seashore for $3,000, which forever changed the course of our days.
Our location changed.
We spent weekends in June, July and August there. Over the years we slept in a tent, camper van, recreational trailer and eventually, a house. As children, our backyard playground became a long stretch of rocky coastline. At night, we fell asleep fanned by cooling sea breezes and soothed by the hypnotic sound of breaking waves.
Our activities changed.
At dawn, we carried our aluminum boat to the water’s edge. Heading upriver, we anchored over a ledge and fished until we tired of baiting the hook and taking flounder, scup and the occasional sand shark off the line. At night we fished off the rocks in search of striped bass, but more likely hooked eels. Afternoons were spent swimming, fishing, clamming, crabbing, reading, hitting the volleyball over the net and biking.
Our diet changed.
The result of our labors, we feasted on fish, clams, quahogs, periwinkles and crabs. The charcoal hibachi, and later gas-fired grill, was always ready to sear steaks, ribs, chicken, hamburgers and especially the plentiful varieties of fish. On steamy, humid days, we ate lettuce with huge chunks of just-picked tomatoes and sweet bell peppers from our tiny garden behind the shed. They were garnished with a sprinkling of parsley that my grandfather had started from seed decades before. And no afternoon ever went by without our savoring a heaping sugar cone of ice cream.
Our health changed.
Breathing clean sea air and warmed by sunshine, we ate when we were hungry and had plenty of exercise. We had no set schedule, no appointments, no housework and no obligations.
Our relationships changed.
We knew all our relatives. Family and friends stopped by for a visit on Sunday afternoons, and we caught up on each other’s lives. Permanently on vacation, we greeted our neighbors when we walked by their cottages, sat side-by-side on brightly colored towels at the beach or chatted on our hands and knees while digging for clams.
Our perspective changed.
Spending endless summer days sitting on a boulder and gazing out to sea, your faculties become sharper. You notice the tides, the wind direction, the intense fuchsia of sea roses, the rhythm of swaying sea grasses, the skies in shades of blues and grays, the puffiness of cumulus clouds, the fast-moving shapes of storm clouds, the dance of sandpipers, the flight of seagulls, and the miracle of pulsing waters in the estuary changing direction in front of your very eyes.
You see God’s handiwork everywhere, and you feel loved.