I grew up on Long Island, not more than 20 minutes from a beach or pier. The beach was a very big part of my childhood. We ‘lived’ each summer day on Long Island’s East End during the summer. Hanging out at the beaches in Mattituck. Friends of the family had a house there and we would use it as our base of operations during those summer days. We were on the beach all day long and we loved it. If we weren’t there we were on our sailboat. Sailing to Fire Island to relax and enjoy the ocean side of the island. Most of our neighbors had boats and we all seemed to hang out on Fire Island together. All the kids on my block were within a 6-year age range of each other and we all got along. It was a great way to spend our summers.
My husband’s childhood was spent at his family/extended families ‘compound’. A group of houses and land on Lake Winnipesaukee in Gilford, New Hampshire. He spent his time on the lake, fishing, going out in the rowboat with his sister. Of course, I’m sure getting into mischief as well. They both loved those summers. He talks about how he and his sister would spread Coppertone suntan oil, yes, oil all over their bodies. They baked in the sun. Yes, that is what we did when we were young and stupid. But oh, the memories. Childhood memories. Idyllic memories.
When I got married and started having kids, I wanted those kinds of memories for them as well. However, although we lived close to the ocean, there weren’t any beaches. It is coastline and harbors but not really beaches. We used to go to Wingaersheek Beach in Gloucester, Mass. This beach was an hour’s drive away from our old home. But the difference from my childhood is that there is no ‘home base’ for us up in Gloucester. Spending the whole day was tiring and it just wasn’t the same as my childhood.
I was young when I realized the calming effect the ocean had on me. I remember getting my first car at 17 yrs old, driving down to the docks, rolling down my windows, yes, rolling down, I had a 1973 Ford Mustang, and just sitting on the dock listening to the ocean lap against the pier. The salt air, the calmness that came over me. I didn’t realize then that it would be the fastest and easiest way for me to get the calm back in my life when things got hectic. Just walking a few minutes in silence along the ocean’s edge does a world of good for my mind and soul. It gives me time to think and be alone. Some times I think we need that more than anything else in life.
Clint and I bought a vacation house in Vermont when we got married. To help afford it, we rent it out. Since the house is not ‘just ours’, we can’t leave our gear there. This makes the house not as inviting for me. Plus I was still looking for the water aspect. Yes, there are lakes but for me, it’s not the same. I still wanted the ocean. So when we started looking for a new house 3 years ago, I wanted to see if we could be close to the ocean. I’m honestly not sure how we found this house. However, we were able to find a fixer-upper just a 5-minute walk to the beach. It’s been an adventure. We still have a lot to do but walking to the beach and spending just a half-hour there sometimes really helps to reset me for another day.
However, this feeling of being with the ocean, not just the calm but enjoyment as well is part of this town. There is a lot of history in our little town. There are a few Facebook groups for our town. Others post old pictures of the town most are of the beach or ocean. In fact last night I saw a great photo. It was an old black and white photo of the main town beach. Bicycles leaning against the railing along the seawall as far as the eye can see. There were a ton of people were on the beach since it was low tide. I really think the beach brings people together. A commonplace to sit, relax and enjoy each other’s company.
One of the first purchases we made after moving into this house was our tidal clock. Now that it’s daylight savings it’s easy to go for a walk after dinner. We had our ritual walk tonight a little later than usual but we made it. As soon as we crossed the road I could feel the salty air on my cheeks and the calm coming over me. Clint and the girls walked to the left in search of shells and sea glass. I went to the right just walking. Lost in no thoughts just breathing in and allowing that salt air to do its magic. The magic of calming.
Ainsley quickly found me and we walked on together, not talking but just being, walking. By the time we got home, everyone was calmer and more settled. A much nicer state of being. This is what the ocean does for me. I’m so grateful we moved to this town so I can have this peace. I also am grateful that my kids too are growing up on the ocean.
If you enjoyed this please check out my post about the simple joys of summer. You should also check out what the Travel Channel says is the best beach in your state here. They chose a beach on Martha’s Vineyard that I haven’t been to. I guess I need to put that on our list of beaches to visit.
Do you have a special place where you find peace? If not I hope this has inspired you to find a place just for you.