I pull my car into the parking lot, anticipation already buzzing under my skin. Easing into a vacant spot (though all of them are vacant, at this hour), I turn off the ignition and allow myself a moment of sheer joy at the prospect of my next few hours alone. As I open the door of my car and climb out, the saltwater air fills my nostrils and the wind runs its fingers through my hair.
Quickly, quickly now, I grab my belongings–bag and towel and chair and umbrella–and lock my car up tight. Minutes later, my feet are in the sand, and I’m in heaven.
I kick off my shoes. The sand, still slightly chilled from the night before, feels good between my toes. The sun is barely risen–it’s just past seven a.m.–and the beach is deliciously deserted. I stake my claim on a small plot of sand, plop down my chair, and decide to leave the umbrella for later. I want nothing to separate me from the sky, the clouds, the sun. I want to revel in the warm air. Let Mother Nature embrace me today.
I walk down to the surf, and let the waves break around my ankles. It is unusually chilly for this time of year. I wonder if there’s a storm brewing beyond the horizon, but I clear my head of those thoughts, wanting to enjoy this moment without worry of rain clouds. A solitary paddle surfer inches by slowly, no doubt enjoying this beautiful summer sunrise as much as me. I stand and watch him, until he is under the sun. My chair beckons me, and so, I take a seat and stare at the sky for awhile instead.
The week’s worth of stresses slowly melt away. There is no paperwork, no phone calls, no rush and bustle here. There is only the wind. The sky. The water. The smells I love permeate my senses: salt. Fresh air. The sweet smell of sunscreen, like so much coconut. I close my eyes and drift, letting the magic of the sea envelop me. After a moment (an hour?) the caw! caw! of seagulls wake me from my reverie. They take flight, the black tips of their wings shiny from the morning dew.
The sun rises higher in the blue sky, and my worries about a summer squall completely disappear. The day grows warmer still, and I know my few hours of solitude will soon come to an end. Still-sleepy children will race with delight to the surf, while parents smile and take pictures and set up camp amidst the dunes. Joggers will begin to parade by, sweat glistening on their tanned skin, arms pumping to the music in their ears that I cannot hear. Dogs of all ages and shapes and sizes will join the children in the water. And my quiet moment with nature will be over.
But that’s ok. I’ve come prepared for the beach invasion. As I hear a child’s squeal of glee over my shoulder, I slide my paperback out of my bag. The page is still folded down, and slightly damp, from last week’s beach trip. I settle back in the chair, burying my feet in the sand as I stretch out, and dive into a book I’ve already read three times. The sun warms my shoulders, the sounds of people playing drift away, and I let the sea soothe my frayed nerves. I might take a nap later. Or a quick dip in the ocean. My schedule is wide open. The only plans for the day are to relax. Enjoy. Indulge.