We took a beach day last week. I had a migraine, but the humidity was mercifully low so I bundled Cal and a pal of his (and their boogie boards) into the car and we headed out. It was perfect beach weather. If we'd waited a day the red flags would be flying for rip currents, and as it was the temperatures were perfect and the waves just lovely for boogie boarding.
Apparently the cure for migraines is the sun and sand and salt coupled with a light breeze. Low humidity doesn't hurt. While the boys careened from board to ball to ball (paddle and soccer), I sunk my chair and toes in the sand and dug deep into a book I'd just popped onto my Kindle. Bittersweet was just the kind of beach-read that I was looking for. Set at a wealthy family's compound over a summer on Lake Champlain, I'm not even sure that it was all that well-written, but I did exactly what one reviewer did, which was read it every chance I got until it was finished.
It was a fascinating story, and I won't give anything away by saying that despite this family's wealth, the primitive nature of their sprawling summer compound makes it hard to sense if this novel takes place in 2014 or 1954. I kind of like that. Dogs abound. Floorboards creek. Afternoons are spent beachside, reading (well, attempting to) Paradise Lost on the rocks beside the lake.
I felt a yearning when I read it, I have to admit. It all sounded so ... nice. The beach. The sun-heated rocks. The quiet slap of water against the shore as the sun goes down each evening. Not for the wealth, necessarily, and certainly not the dark secrets. (There are always dark secrets, aren't there?) I know I don't need the All White Party that's this family's tradition every 5th of July (Good grief, people.). But I yearned for those traditions that make summer, or any season, really, special. And it got me thinking, what traditions do we have? We don't do All White Parties, but we do have our summer routines. Watering the plants each morning. A pack of Twizzlers in our beach bag. The long slow walk across hot sand. A walk to the river on muggy nights. Milkshakes or homemade ice cream for dessert.
And if I want more? A glass of wine in the evenings before dinner. Some chilled grapes or cheese after work. All that takes is some more attention. A flick of the wrist, really. A willingness to take the time. And new routines are born. All White Party? Pffft. Give me a few moments in the evening light of my living room, and give it to me every night so I know I can count on it. Let me come downstairs freshly showered after a day at the beach, feeling cool and comfortable after my skin has been pulled taut by sun and sand. Let me talk with Neel about his day and answer Cal's impatient question, "How long until dinner?" This is the stuff dreams are made of.