beach day {life}

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.

first landing {life}

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For five weekends now we've been trekking out toward First Landing State Park for a Sunday morning walk along the Chesapeake Bay. I'm not gonna lie. It was my brilliant idea in the first place. I just decided that I needed to do it, needed to go, and if I went by myself that would be okay. Luckily, everyone wanted to come with me.

Because Lucy needs the most exercise, we started with her first. Honestly? She's not the best beach dog. She's a bolter, and while I don't think she'd head off the beach and toward the busy street, it's too stressful to not be sure. So on the leash she stays. Which is fine, except for Lucy, the sand is BIG, the sky is BIG, the bay is BIG...well, you get the idea. She's an anxious little one.  

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We tried Thea next, and that's worked out much better for everyone, I think. Mellow on the car ride and mellow along the water, she's the best beach dog we have. She's content to sit with me if Cal and Neel are throwing the baseball, and if I say, "Let's go for a walk," she jumps up and is ready to plod along beside me. Sweet corgi looks so small on that vast beach.

Cal tries stand up paddleboarding. 

Cal tries stand up paddleboarding. 

That's Neel way out there. 

That's Neel way out there. 

Buster the bulldog, to the fore of that paddleboard. 

Buster the bulldog, to the fore of that paddleboard. 

Often times, we'll meet my friend Kim and her family for a walk with their bulldog Buster. If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen Thea paddleboarding with Cal. It was Buster's paddleboard that Cal and Neel (and Thea) borrowed that gorgeous early October day. 

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A tanker ship rounds Cape Henry and heads to Norfolk, likely to the spot I can see from where I take all the shots from our river.

A tanker ship rounds Cape Henry and heads to Norfolk, likely to the spot I can see from where I take all the shots from our river.

I've described to you before about how the layout of the land and water works here, and as you can see, we have so many options when it comes to taking in some beach or water time. Endless marshes or rivers aside, it's always remarkable to me that you can think to yourself, "Bay or ocean today?" Even on the bay, there are different landscapes, and further up things feel calmer while here at the mouth the world seems more wild.  

I never would have dreamed you could pull me away from the ocean, but I've come, I think, to love this spot the best. I love the curve of the land as it bends around Cape Henry and I love that we're in the place where the great Chesapeake Bay meets the Atlantic Ocean. I love it that this is where the first settlers landed when they first came to America, and I love seeing the naval might and the industry of our country travel these waters. I feel connected to the earth in a way here that doesn't happen on pavement or city streets.

The weather has been different each time we've gone, with wind and wave marching changeable patterns along the shore. Some days (like this past weekend), it's clear enough to see the cars traveling the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel in the distance. Others have been blustery and cool, with gray clouds scudding across the sky.  

Will we make it deep into winter? I don't know. I hope so, and with Virginia winters, we're likely to get at least a Sunday or two here or there where we can go. Until then, this I treasure. Time with my family. Hearing Cal say each weekend, "We're going to the beach, aren't we?" Walking with a faithful pup by my side. My feet in the cool soft sand. The splash of a wave against the shore. This I cherish.