breath of joy, memoir, Nancy Ceyters, simply summer

SUM-SUMMER, SOME BEACHES

By Nancy Ceyters

COVID-19 may have washed the summer beach date off the calendar, but we have a backup plan: the beach webcam.

Not kidding.

Through the eyes of the webcam, we watch the sun sparkle on the tips of the waves, the tides ebb and flow, and the seagulls swoop too close to the lens.

We have witnessed weddings on our beach webcam, volleyball games, summer lifeguard Olympics, foot races, and fights; we are drawn in by the boats and planes carrying written messages, and the people dropping their ice cream on the boardwalk and spewing verbal messages we can only imagine.

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Last night when in need for a beach fix, the beach-cam was down. Don’t they realize? We watch the cam all seasons, and we especially need it now.

Quickly my party came up with another backup plan: beach memories.

I recited, “Every summer during the growing up years, my family spent two or three weeks at Point O’ Woods beach in South Lyme, CT. A small private beach with no motels, stores, restaurants, or amusement parks, Point O’ Woods is a beach, not a city. We pulled the car in on a Saturday and did not get into that car again until the day we left. Days were spent on the beach, and evenings were spent taking walks, playing whiffle ball, and dealing cards. Even when the sun didn’t shine, we enjoyed the fog horns, the rocks around the sound, and the lively waves fighting back at the rain.”

I’m talking, a few winters we visited the old aunts at Haven of Rest Trailer park in Hobe Sound, FL. The sun on the beach seemed stronger there, and the waves rougher, but this quiet beach was home for a week.

Our only worry there was the Portuguese Man o War, as even the dead ones can sting, and one put an aunt in the hospital for several weeks.

As an adult, Rehoboth Beach, DE is my beach. Although it isn’t as built up as Ocean City, MD, it is lined with motels, shops, arcades, and eateries. We face the ocean with that “city” view behind us. The only time we leave the beach is to feed the parking meter or empty the bladder.

I love the beach, in and out of season.

A page from Breath of Joy: Simply Summer by Kathy Joy

Trudging through the snow on the beach in Asbury Park, NJ made it too tempting not to take off the boots and test the water. Visiting Rehoboth in the fall surprised us with kites flying and a superpod of dolphins in synchronized swimming.

The salt air, the therapeutic lull of the waves, and the refreshing water, along with the sun and kick-up-the-feet and lose-the-cares beach spirit does not mean every experience is joyful, but all are memorable.

My memories are stealing the conversation, but I don’t care much now.

I’ll never forget seeing Grandma sobbing in the dining room chair of the cottage the day her dog Ladybug was killed on the trip to visit us at the beach. I can still feel that sinking in my stomach that kept me from a second bite of a muffin the day we sat at the picnic table and the police officer came around the back of the cottage to tell us our childhood friend Freddy had died. Nor will I forget the fear, as a child, seeing someone steal a carton of cigarettes and worrying that he knew I saw him do it.

But with those memories come the 20 lb. bluefish my brother caught, the many friends who came to visit, the five-cent Good Humor ice creams, swimming out to the raft for the first time, and many hours of pure delight.

The beach has played a significant role in my life and in the friendship with a dear friend of 42 years. We have shared trips to Rehoboth, and we have had fun with the webcam—one at home viewing, the other waving to the camera. In the 1980’s we saw the movie Beaches and claimed it as ours. Over the past four decades, our life stories and our friendship—in their own way–have paralleled that of CC and Hillary. As we kept in touch through letters, email, and now text, we closed our message with “Beaches.” At times the entire message was “Beaches.”

This summer’s beach plans are shot, and from time to time the webcam is down, but if I have learned anything from the beach and my longtime beach friend Kathy, it is that we can make the best of it and still find something to celebrate. Kathy celebrates all four seasons, beach or no beach, and between her wit and her wordsmith talents, she brings that celebration into the life of all who meet her. 

I can’t visit my memories of the beach without celebrating my friend, “Beaches.”

Nancy Ceyters

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3 thoughts on “SUM-SUMMER, SOME BEACHES”

  1. I too am a beach lover and I grew up with great memories of the ocean in California. Thank you for reminding me of how wonderful and healing the beach can be and how entertaining as well. Love this blog.

  2. My childhood “beach” bordered LAWCO Lake and is every bit as magical in my memories. I too share all of those memories with a cherished friend. Thank you taking me back…

  3. I love the mingled memories in this blog, and I love that I’m part of those memories. “Beaches” will continue as our theme, our greeting and our fond farewell.

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