When life gets rocky in our household on weekends we head to the beach. Before the snapping, fussing, or whining escalates, we wisely load up the car with beach towels, the old flowery sheet that we use as a picnic blanket, requisite sand toys, snacks, and our huge long-haired pup.
And off we go.
The drive to one of the local beaches we’re lucky to reach within the hour is long and windy, but just short enough for books and the sights to distract from too many “are we there yet?” inquiries.
“Look! Water!” one of the kids will inevitably call out as we draw near. All eyes crane to see and eager smiles replace concerned frowns and tense jaws.
It doesn’t matter whether the sun’s beating down or the wind’s chilling foggy skies. What matters is that we are at the beach!
Little bodies start scampering toward the sand before weaving back at the reminder to come help carry something! Toes dig into thick, shifting grains. Lungs fill with cool sea air. Minds relax to the rhythmic roar of the surf.
The flowery sheet is dutifully pinned down with flip-flops and more towels, but mostly abandoned as the kids bound toward the surf and start digging in the heavy, wet sand with us parents following not far behind. Giggles erupt as the foamy surf flirts with little feet. The loud crash of the tide and rhythmic surge of the waves complement quiet contemplation and focused castle building.
I observe my oldest daughter dancing in and out of the surf, sheer joy across her beaming face. My brow relaxes as it hasn’t in many days and I give thanks.
I look over at my restless four-year old and find him immersed in creating a cityscape with waterways. His body crawls about his creation changing and correcting mounds of sand. He raises his head and exclaims, “Look!” I smile and nod back.
Our youngest chases the seagulls that swoop up to the skies at her approach, only to land a few yards away. Up again they ascend to her shrieks of delight. She lurches her body ahead ready to conquer another resting flock. The perfect repetitive task for a diligent two-year old.
Brett drags a long strand of seaweed toward us. At its end is our dog furiously trying to usurp it. Duke spots the seagulls and joins Grace’s charge.
And once again peace is reclaimed and perspective restored.