The Beach

Now that we live in the Mizzle, I no longer make a pilgrimage to Second Beach at English Bay. Vancouver beaches are too far to go with kids. One kid, maybe. Two kids, no. It’s OK, we have our own beach. It is called Barnet Marine Park and it is a 15 minute drive from our house. This is what it always looks like when we show up.

Most people arrive at Barnet starting around 11 am, which is perfect because we start packing up to go about 11:30. Earlier than that, there are sometimes a couple of people walking by the water or doing tai chi. There are also people who fish. This morning, we only shared the beach with a starfish, and only because the tide was so far out. Within an hour, the starfish and his log were covered with water again and I could stop worrying about the seagulls eating him.

There were also 800 jellyfish. At least. This is a small one.

This is the first year I have been to the beach several times in one summer. In past years we have only remembered to go in the middle of September, when the light coming over the mountains is duller and the sand is cold between our toes. This year, we went a lot. It is an easy trip, as long as you sing very loudly to Fresco on the way home so he doesn’t fall asleep in the car.

The boys are at a good age for beaching. They are neither terrified of waves (Trombone, 2 years ago) or likely to fall in because they have no depth perception (last year, Fresco). This is not to say that they are well behaved. They will fight to the death over THE BEST STICK EVER, (sorry, didn’t get a picture of it, but it was completely unlike every other stick within reach oh my god what is wrong with you children?) But they also roll around in the sand like demented puppies and show each other rocks they’ve found and brush the sand off each others’ feet.

Today was an easy day. We showed up, took our shoes off and had a snack. Trombone was trying to build a racetrack and Fresco was mostly concerned with the butterfly net I found in the storage room right before we left. They were both wonderfully, quietly self-amused for quite a few minutes.

I kept thinking about how every year we have a last trip to the beach and how I remember that last trip all year. I remember all our trips to the beach, actually, because they’re almost always peaceful and happy trips. There are mountains all around, the ocean is cool on your hot feet, the sand is clean and there is a surprising amount to do in all that vast expanse of beach. Digging holes. Filling holes. Filling buckets. Pouring buckets. Writing in the sand. Erasing the writing in the sand.

Everywhere it’s Fall. People are talking about school, parents are anxious about their kids, kids are anxious about their 3 ring binders, lunch boxes have been mouldering all summer. For me, it’s just the start of September. Trombone will go back to preschool on the 13th and I will start my annual campaign to Not Catch Any Contagious Diseases. But still, it feels like Fall. Like every Fall.

I wonder how homeschooled kids feel about Fall and whether, when they are adults, you will see them tweeting things like: don’t get the appeal of corduroy pants actually or never understand why people like the smell of pencil sharpeners so much . Will we still be tweeting when the homeschooled kids are old enough to be nostalgic about their not-school years? I don’t know.

I do know that a butterfly net is not just good for catching butterflies. It can also be used to strain the good stuff from the sand, for catching rocks from the ocean, for waving about idly and for keeping your face free of bees. Should there be bees. Which there were not, at the beach, today.

Sidenote: We have had this hat for two summers now. You know how there are some hats that you buy and lose in the same day, and then there are the other ones that stick around forever? Re-Elect Ramal is a $1.99 Salvation Army Thrift Store purchase. Every time one of us wears it, I wonder if Ramal won or not.

Ramal? Did you win, Ramal? A nation wonders.

One beach thing I am not fond of is crows. A group of crows, while we were down at the water, went into our cloth bag, pulled out the box of crackers, opened it and stole half of them. Crows! Like raccoons with wings!

So while we sat on the blanket in the shade, guarding the rest of our snack, Fresco practiced his seagull call. It worked. The crows stayed away after that.

I ate almonds and Fresco ate blueberries and Trombone was a few feet away, digging a really big hole that he then put himself in. The ocean lapped and the geese drifted and a train went by. Some days, huh? Some days are just too good.

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