At the beach... -- 09/05/04

I spent hours at the beach yesterday -- Captain Roger W. Wheeler State Beach, to be exact -- hours spent chatting with friends and family, reading, and soaking up sunshine with my eyes closed... plus walking along the beach, having a fish and chips lunch, and swimming and splashing in the water.


It was a perfect beach day -- warm and sunny -- just a perfect comfortable temperature at the beach that you are startled when you walk away from the beach for lunch and discover that it is really a hot summer day.

Nancy and I set off for the beach at mid-morning, stopping first at our bank and having a pleasant surprise -- the bank made us a gift of twenty-five dollars. As I believe I have mentioned in passing somewhere in these pages (but merely in passing, not in detail) the Town of Narragansett has two historic buildings -- The Towers and The Kinney Bungalow at Sunset Farms -- which may be rented for weddings, parties and other social occasions by individuals or groups. The town needs to have two attendants at these events, partly to act as museum docents, explaining the history of the buildings, etc. to anyone interested, and partly to protect the building and to be sure that the caterers cleans up afterwards, etc. So Nancy and I have been doing this since the beginning of the summer, once a month or so, usually working together. I was skeptical about it at first, but it has actually turned out to be very interesting. (Yes, one of these days I will bring a camera and take some pictures of these buildings; they are both really fascinating places, each possessing a unique and interesting history.) Anyway, the point of this digression is that these are only semi-volunteer positions; we actually get paid a token (near-minimum wage) amount. We decided that we should stick this money into a separate savings account to be used towards a vacation in 2005 (right now we have two possibilities -- either a week in Washington doing the museums, inspired by our weekend at JournalCon or a week visiting Prince Edward Island, a trip we've talked about for years). So these paychecks have been piling up all summer (and, no doubt, annoying the town payroll bookkeeper) waiting for us to get around to visiting our bank. So, finally getting to the point, the bank customer service rep told us that if we opened a pair of accounts -- checking and savings -- with an automatic monthly transfer of a minimum of twenty-five dollars a month from checking to savings -- we would get a much better interest rate on both accounts and we would also get a twenty-five dollar gift deposit into the account. Cool. That worked for us. Plus, our existing checking and savings accounts were six years old -- if we changed them to this different type we would get higher interest rates on them as well even though there was no other change in terms. (Although many banks I've done business with have really ticked me off in various ways, I really like doing business with this bank.)

And then off to the beach....

Nancy's sister Clara and her husband Paul and their daughter Kate were there, along with Nancy's sister Janet and her daughter Alison. Wheeler State Beach is fairly large with probably a couple thousand people enjoying the sand and sun and water -- it's the one we took our grandson to on his visit about a month ago -- but this being 2004, Nancy just whipped out her cell phone and speed-dialed Kate's cell phone -- "Where are you in relation to the pavilion?" -- and soon we were all conformably gathered on the beach.

We sat and talked -- well, the adults sat and talked, the teenagers silently soaked up the sun, dashed down to the water to splash around for a while, then returned to their blanket for more silent sun soaking -- and then I read for awhile, but I was just so comfortable in my chair (bless whoever invented those lightweight folding chairs with fabric seats and backs that just fold up so nicely to be stowed in carry-bags, so much more comfortable than those old plastic mesh aluminum frame folding chairs) that I couldn't resist closing my book and my eyes and just absorbing the summer-on-the-beach sensory input with my eyes closed -- warm sunshine, refreshing breeze bringing the scent of salt water, and the sounds of summer, softened the vastness of the sky: the cry of gulls, the muted mumbling sounds of dozens of conversations, overlapping and removing any meaning, becoming just background noise, the sound of beach umbrellas flapping in the breeze, an airplane passing overhead towing an advertising banner, squeals and laughter from children, a barely audible radio tuned to the broadcast of a Boston Red Sox game, the actual words of the announcer lost, just the pitch and rhythmn of his voice telling you that it is a baseball game... the sounds of summer...

Ahhhh, indeed.

I open my eyes and Nancy asks me if I've had a nice nap. I don't bother to refute that... I don't think I was sound asleep, but I was surely not actively conscious either... just pleasantly relaxed, dozing, floating in a sea of gentle sensations...

We went to lunch (a late lunch, it is two o'clock by the time we actually eat), walking along the beach, leaving the state beach to pass an area of "Private Beaches" (but in Rhode Island, your property starts at the high tide mark, the rest of the shore is reserved for everyone), and eventually we come to Salty Brine State Beach at Point Judith (I wrote about Salty Brine and this beach about three years ago.) The beach there was so crowded that I commented that we might have to walk on top of people to reach the road -- and then there we were, in the village of Gallilee, just bit over a hundred yards or so from the beach to Champlins where we had our seafood lunch.

Then, walk off lunch by traipsing back to Wheeler, relaxing in our chairs, soaking up more sun. Nancy and Clara decided to go in the water and then I decided to go in as well. Wheeler is the most protected beach along the shore, the Point Judith breakwater usually means gentle swells at Roger Wheeler and Salty Brine beaches, not the surf action that you can sometimes find, for example, at Scarborough State Beach -- that's the reason we had brought Sam to this beach last month -- but now the waves were coming in the way they usually do at Scarborough and people were diving into the waves (something I used to do until one day, about seven years ago at Scarborough, a wave picked me up and dumped me upsidedown, thumping my head on the bottom, giving me a panicked thought of Christopher Reeve, and leaving me with a sore neck for days afterwards) and kids were screaming and riding boogie boards in the surf -- I splashed around and felt the power of the waves and swam a little bit and enjoyed the not-cold water (thinking of New Year's swims: 01/01/03 and 01/01/04 and, yeah, I probably will do that again).

So what we had thought might be two hours at the beach became five hours at the beach -- and then home to shower and change and go over to my mother-in-law's for dinner and convivial conversation.

Today began with grey, overcast skies, but now as it nears noon, we have lovely sunshine and the day is warming up -- currently in the mid-sixties (20°C) but the forecast is for low seventies and scattered clouds and sun the next few days. So I think it's getting near time to stop typing and to FTP this entry and then have a bit of lunch and then go outside and enjoy the day and get some yardwork done.

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