Rekindle childhood joys at the seashore

July 30, 2017

I look for them every summer, but I’ve never seen them again after the first sighting. It was a little boy and his father, flying a kite down by the water’s edge.

They reminded me of the lyrics to the song, “Puff, the Magic Dragon.” In that Peter, Paul and Mary song, the little boy Jackie Paper plays by the sea with what I think of as a dragon kite, named Puff, bringing him strings, sealing wax and other stuff. They frolicked all day long. 

Yes, the beach is still filled with sights and sounds today, and you can have fun with your imagination. It’s a place to forget the world’s problems just for a moment and breathe. You can leave your troubles and stress back home and dig your feet into the sand. All your worries will be there when you get back. But for now, enjoy what Mother Nature put in your back yard. 

During the day, you can hear the squeals of delight from the little tykes as they dare the waves to touch them. They run back and forth challenging and splashing.

They have no hesitation about life; they live in the moment. And I love when they cling to a parent’s hand as a lifeline when they first step into that vast ocean. They will come back to the beach again and again in the coming years. 

Colorful umbrellas dot the landscape as far as the eye can see. Solid colors of red and blue as well as stripes reach above the crowd and try to touch a sky that smiles down on a buttermilk day. Everyone and everything has dreams on a day like this. 

The sounds of seagulls squawking can always be heard. It seems you can’t have a postcard ocean without them. It’s the same with the smell of salt air that permeates the cool breeze the closer you get to the water. I can’t imagine what it would be like without it. 

But I like to walk the beach early in the morning. There are just a few of us, poking the sand with our feet, looking for shells. It’s quiet now before the masses descend. We can clearly hear the rhythm of the water secretly rushing in wave after wave. 

I collect a lot of shells. I know each one has a story, and I wonder how they were formed and how far they have come to be here in Rehoboth. I especially adore the tiny, tiny perfectly formed shells.

There are jars and other containers in my kitchen filled with shells. The best part is that in the winter, I occasionally find one in the pocket of a coat or sweater I was wearing in the summer. It always brings a smile to my face, as it tells me there were good times, and more good is ahead of me. 

The ocean and all that comes with it is right at your doorstep. Often it can feel like the wheels are coming off the country, and personally you may have that same feeling about your life. But it is not happening here at the ocean. It’s a blank slate and you can put anything you want there. 

I keep looking for that father and son, flying their kite at the water’s edge. But perhaps they went the way of the song. It says, ...”Dragons live forever, but not so little boys, Painted wings and giant’s rings make way for other toys, One grey night it happened, Jackie Paper came no more, And Puff that mighty dragon, he ceased his fearless roar...” 

We all have to grow up, and each year can present a new set of problems and hopefully a new set of joys. It’s all in how you look at it. Life moves on - it has to, and so do you.

  • Nancy Katz has a degree in creative writing and is the author of the book, "Notes from the Beach." She has written the column Around Town for the Cape Gazette for twenty years. Her style is satirical and deals with all aspects of living in a resort area on Delmarva.