05 November 2011
Rocky, Flatty and Shell-y
When we have visitors, which happens often now that we're far from home, our first priority is always the beach. Which one should we go to and how should we get there? Walk? Bike? Drive for immediate gratification? We're like "Look what we've got!!" It's always the big reveal.
We have several kinds of beaches within minutes of our house and it's always interesting to discover each visitor's beach personality. There's the wide, pristine sandy beach perfect for long walks and watching surfers; there's the flat town beach across from the ice cream stand, used mainly by people who pack coolers and beach chairs and stay for the day; then there's the rocky beach, known as Rye on the Rocks. It's private and secluded, watched over by a single fish shack perched above it. This is the beach for quiet moments and tidepooling and collecting rocks and shells.
For some, this holds little attraction. You can tell that they've checked the box as soon as they walk across the rocks, look at the water, and then look at you like "Ok - what's next?"
These people prefer party beaches. For these people, the beach is for summertime.
And some people have no beach personality at all. The fact that the beach is within spitting distance doesn't even register. They play along patiently while we proudly showcase our greatest assets........but they look surprised when we suggest actually getting out of the car.
These people like the mountains.
The beach chair and boogie board variety is the default beach preference for most people - maybe due to experience; if you don't live near the beach, you tend to spend the day at the beach. You probably couldn't spend the day looking at the water and collecting rocks and shells.
Although I could.
Mike and I have identified a phenomenon that occurs when sitting on the shore of the rocky beach; you inevitably see a pretty rock - so you pick it up. While you're picking up that rock, you see another one, just to the right. So you pick that one up. As you put the rocks in your pocket, you see a perfectly shaped stone just ahead - so you reach out and get that one, too. And while you're sitting there, it's impossible to look away from the display at your feet. You can't stop looking and you can't stop finding and you can't stop putting them in your pockets. And even as you walk to the car, you look down the whole time, not wanting to miss anything.
This is something that the beach chair / boogie board people may need to experience just to know that it exists. Children don't have preconceived beach notions and once you hand them a pretty rock and tell them that the striped ones are lucky, they're all in.
Our 4 year old friend, Hadley, not only searched and collected, she also named. There was Rocky and Flatty and Shell-y (pronounced She-wy) and many, many more - all named quickly and easily for their physical attributes. She could have stayed all day and collected, just like me. And when it was time to leave, and someone mistook Rocky and Flatty and Shell-y for mere gravel and assumed they belonged on the ground instead of in the car, there was hell to pay. These were her friends, not gravel. And she unleashed a rage that said, "I'm not leaving! I'm staying here forever! You ridiculous cad who threw my friends on the ground when it was time to leave! I will make you pay by subjecting you to the loudness of my voice! AAAAAAAH!"
So Rocky and Flatty and Shell-y made it home. All the way to Minnesota.
I have a habit of collecting stones on vacation and bringing them home in my suitcase. The first time I did this was at Salina Beach in California. Each rock was prettier than the last and I took them all. When I handed my suitcase to the ticket agent he grunted and said, "Man! What have you got in here? Rocks?!"
"Hahahaha (nervous fake laughter)! Yeah! Rocks?! I mean, who would do that? Not me. I wouldn't do that. That's so dumb." (quickly run away)
After that trip, I saw the need to be more judicious and tried to choose just one rock as a souvenir from each trip. When I get home, I write the name of the vacation destination on the rock with a paint pen and put it in a bowl.
World's cheapest and most beautiful souvenir.
But the judiciousness doesn't work so well at Rye on the Rocks. And I often think to myself: someday I will inevitably move again; will I pack all of these rocks and take them with me?