by Happy Spring
Follow me to my "place in the sun.".
| "We Are The Spirit" |
The true 'spirit of things' hit me as I was walking on the beach, wrapped in the glow of sunrise.
When my children were younger, we spent our summer weekends at our little house near the South Jersey Shore. Our house was one of seventy-five or so, located on the marshes known as "Grassy Sound." Those who lived there had “squatter’s rights.” The houses were on pilings and sat on a three-mile stretch of narrow road. It crossed an old bridge, leading to the Wildwood beaches on the other side. We walked the boardwalk, rode the amusement rides and ate cotton candy. Our family always loved the summers there and we squatters fondly called it “Grassy.”
Everyone had a pier out back and some kind of boat. We spent a lot of our time winding through the canals, crabbing or catching minnows to catch the crabs. The kids would squeal with delight after returning them back to the water, watching them wiggle away. Our sweet spaniel Roxie would always be waiting for us at the end of the pier when we returned.
We had many cookouts on the pier with our family and friends, eating our catch for the day, so delicious and sweet. We laughed and had good times. The on-running joke to visitors was “ You’re never a true ‘Grassy Sounder’ unless you fall off the pier at least once!”
The sea gulls always knew when it was suppertime. The children and I would delight in feeding them. All you had to do was wave your hand and they would come. There was one large white sea gull that my older son named "Petey." He sat on a large post at the end of our pier and was always first to fly overhead. He would catch the food as fast we could throw it. The sea gulls were in your face, as they snatched their food. I can still hear their cries as they flew away. How beautiful and graceful they were!
The tide would come in one hour later each day. When it was full moon, the tidal water was higher than usual. The marsh would be covered with water, hiding the tall green grass that previously, had gently waved with the summer breeze. While we slept, we would sub-consciously hear the sounds of fish plopping in and out of the water. We slept content on our little “house boat”, which is what our two boys had named it.
We would go to the beach in the morning, before the "Philly crowd" arrived. Otherwise, the traffic would be backed up from the bridge, past our houses to the parkway off-ramp. The crowded beaches kept everyone, including lifeguards, busy watching and counting heads. Parents were constantly putting on suntan lotion and shaking the sand off their blankets. The children were oblivious to all this, while they splashed, built their sandcastles and waited for the ice cream vendors.
One of my favorite times of the day was going down to the beach at sunset. The children and our faithful dog roamed the beach for lost treasures left behind by the visitors. The children would run, splash and dig to their heart’s content. Their eyes were wide with excitement when they found anything at all.
We would walk the water’s edge, waves tickling our toes. As the waves pulled back, our feet sunk deeper into the cool velvet sand. The higher waves sprayed our faces, leaving us wonderfully refreshed. How soothing it felt on our sunburn! Our so- called “water dog” was constantly backing away from the water. How she hated to get wet! We stayed, enjoying the moment, hating to leave.
Sitting on the sand, watching the children, I felt an inner peace. It grew with each summer that I spent there. This is where I first realized what the word “eternity” meant. The waves were endless and the sea went on forever. I was feeling the real power and beauty that lay before me. Its spirit surrounded me, pulling me into it all.
I enjoyed the solitude at sunrise even more. If I wasn’t too lazy that morning, my dog and I would sneak down to the beach. The beach sweepers had done their job. A clean, endless beach as far as the eye could see. The sea was its blanket, with white fluffy cloud pillows, laying on the horizon. I felt as if the earth and I shared a mystery that no one could ever understand. In those years, I would never have admitted to these feelings, verbally or in writing!
How we hated to board up the house in the fall! This was the saddest part of all. We knew we would not be back until after another long cold winter.
Many years have gone by but the beautiful memories linger on. Grassy Sound no longer exists today. The “Wet Lands Act" was passed and the houses are gone. The memories of these years and our many walks on the beach will always live in my heart.
During our summers at “Grassy”, I came to realize that all of us play an important part in this "spirit of things," no matter how small.
The sea gulls’ cry over head and the power of the ocean will always haunt me. The smell of the salt air and beauty of the sunrise are planted deep within.
“Grassy” will always remind me that I am just a small part of this very large plan that God has created. I know that I am only one grain of sand, but I play an important role in His scheme of things. I have a purpose in all that surrounds me. I realized that man, earth and the universe are truly one.
Like the sea gulls circling above, we are spirits joined together in our ever-ending search for love, tranquility and peace. Each of us has a place in the sun, whether we call it "Grassy" or by any other name. What part our spirit plays here is totally up to each and every one of us.