Down by the sea

A few weeks ago Eric and I took a trip to the coast for a short babymoon. We spent two days outside of Lincoln City walking the beach, playing disc golf, sleeping in and making faces at the fish in the aquarium.

Neskowin Beach has rock formations to explore and is sheltered from the wind.
Neskowin Beach has rock formations to explore and is sheltered from the wind.

The trip was perfect. Firstly, Eric and I sometimes go days without seeing each other. He works at Torii Mor winery on the weekends, which limits our time to an hour or so in the morning and a few hours at night until I fall asleep around 10. He also works at a hardwood floor company in Eugene, which means he usually spends two days down south each week.

The aquarium has a tunnel that takes you underwater.
The aquarium has a tunnel that takes you underwater.

Having several days of uninterrupted time with my husband, then, felt like luxury.

Secondly, the beach is my favorite place in the world. I am happiest and most relaxed shuffling my feet across the sand and listening to the rhythms of the surf.

I’m lucky my little family feels the same way. Finn starts to smell the salt air about 20 miles from the ocean and can barely contain himself until he gets to sprint donuts on the beach, bark at waves and chase down seagulls. Eric is equally puppy-like: He’ll chase after Finn and play chicken with the tide, seeing just how close he can get to the next wave without it soaking his jeans.

Finn dug a hole on either side of my and alternated lying in one, then the other.
Finn dug a hole on either side of my and alternated lying in one, then the other.

Growing up, my family spent a lot of time at the beach. We’d rent either the little cabin with the tea towels for curtains or the spacious house next to a creek that swelled with the tide. We would build sand castles with elaborate moat systems and name them after kids in our class we didn’t like so the structures would get washed away when the tide came in. We’d play Red Light, Green Light in the dark or walk so long—and step on so many jellyfish, squishing them between our toes—that our toes would be swollen and red by the time we finally ventured inside.

We spent plenty of stormy weekends at the coast. The morning after one particularly fierce gale, when Amy was actually lifted off the ground by the wind, my dad had bounded in with coffee, donuts—and a clear blue sphere: a Japanese fishing float.

“I found it on the beach,” he said. “It must have washed up with the storm.”

We all poured onto the beach to try to find our own floats. And we did: They were tucked behind driftwood and nestled among rocks, hiding in tangles of kelp and lying out in the open. We shouted or squealed each time we found one as if we were searching in a maritime Easter egg hunt.

We ended up with at least a dozen floats that day. I still have one of mine, which sits on a bookshelf in the living room.

Years and years later, at Christmas, I think, when we were all grown up, my dad confessed that he had bought the floats at an antique store in Yachats and spent the morning planting them where we’d find them. I was dismayed. I had spent half my childhood and adolescence believing in our amazing luck that the sea would gift us such treasures. The truth eroded some of that magic.

Maybe it would have been better for my dad to keep his secret forever. But I never would want him to undo the fantasy he created for us that morning.

Peeper, Eric and I will definitely continue with trips to the beach as frequently as we can. We bought a membership to the Oregon Coast Aquarium as even greater incentive to go. I hope that Peeper finds the same discovery and adventure I do at the coast on sunny days and overcast mornings after a storm. And maybe someday Peeper will find a clear blue orb, a fishing float—a piece of magic.

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