I grew up going to “the beach”. My “beach” was the Outer Banks, specifically Kitty Hawk.
The Outer Banks have a fascinating (at least to me) history. Today, there are areas of wild beauty and areas of rampant commercialization. Unsurprisingly, I far prefer the wild beauty, the National Seashore, the remote areas. My grandparents had a cottage in Kitty Hawk when I was growing up and I got to spend lots of time in the summer with my brother, mother, cousins, aunts and uncles, and, of course, my grandparents. It was pretty undeveloped in my youth. I have lots of memories of playing in sand and water – very few of put-put, ice cream, and non of fast food.
Because of growing up so close to the vastness of large bodies of water, the ocean has always been an object of awe and beauty. Providing cool relief from the summer heat and a perfect place for children to splash. It also allows the chance for older children (and adults) to push their boundaries (those that bind us to land as well as those mental ones), venturing out past breakers and attempting to ride the energy of a wave as it rolls toward the beach.
The ocean has its own array of moods – pleasant and cheerful, to angry and rough, to bored – and is subject to change in a short amount of time. Every mood is beautiful, though some are awful, some are scary.
My grandparents sold their beach cottage when I was in college. But, this week, we got a chance to spend a few days in Nags Head at a cottage on the beach. I am typing this with a view of the blue sea, seagulls and pelicans drifting lazily over the swells. The Atlantic has been in a good mood this week, easy and pleasant. The children have had a wonderful time playing in the sand and splashing in the waves, despite it being December and temperatures in the 50s. We’ve had walks on the beach, bike rides in the maritime forests, and quiet moments (well, a few anyway – there’s 5 children 9 and under here) relaxing. The best thing about the beach in winter is that no one is here. Well, not literally, but compared to summer, it is pretty deserted. We’ve been the only people on the beach the last few days, except for a few fishermen who drive by on their way to shore fish south of us (in the National Seashore). If you hit decent weather, winter at the beach is fabulous, albeit a little chilly.
Every morning, the children have rushed out to the beach after breakfast to play. Every morning they end up completely wet as they get farther and farther in the surf, playing. First their feet get wet with the very cold water, and I can just assume that as their feet and legs get numb, they don’t mind the cold because they get deeper and wetter.
Hythe has loved being here. I suggested a walk on the beach yesterday afternoon and he and Evva were the only ones who wanted to join me. Hythe took off at a full run didn’t stop until he reached the closest pier, about 1/2 mile away. He loved it! And, I loved watching his pure joy.
We also went out to see the most amazingly decorated-for-Christmas house I’ve ever seen. I think it was featured on ABC News a year of so ago. It was back on a dirt road in Nags Head. Christmas music was playing and many of the decorations moved. Totally impressive!