Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Beach Baby, Beach

As a child, weekends and summer vacations meant packing up and heading to the beach. Sometimes we were quite a crowd with aunts, uncles, cousins and early on, even grandparents. Bonfires were built with leftover construction lumber. As the sun sank into the sea, we’d roast hotdogs and marshmallows and never complained about the crunch of the sand that got blown into our food.

When I reached that golden age of sixteen and got my drivers license, I didn’t wait for weekends to head to the coast. I’d hop in my Mustang, where I kept my swimsuit, a towel and a bottle of baby oil and iodine and spend every precious hour of daylight at my favorite spot.

Nothing soothes “teenage angst” like the sun on your skin and the rhythmic swoosh of the waves lapping against the shore.

Years passed and I met the man who’d become my husband. Dates usually consisted of dinner, a movie and a walk on the beach.

Soon, I became a mom. Once I’d figured out how to juggle a diaper bag, a toddler and a picnic basket, off we’d go—to the beach for the day.

Then about seventeen years ago, we did the unthinkable—we moved away from my beloved San Diego to Atlanta, Georgia. For those of you who are unfamiliar, Atlanta is landlocked! No ocean for hundreds of miles.

It didn’t take long before I transformed into a happy, smiling beach baby into a scowling, complaining grump. I didn’t even like being around myself.

One weekend, in desperation, my husband surprised me with a trip to Tybee Island, which is near Savannah. I celebrated my birthday, which often occurs on the Summer Solstice, by walking the beach at sunset.

As I strolled along, I watched the moon rise over the Atlantic while the sun sank into the western sky above the marshlands to the west. I felt all my tensions wash away with the tide and those little frown lines that form the number eleven between my eyes disappeared and were replaced by laugh lines around my eyes.

On the trip home a few days later, I had to have hubby take over driving before we were even out of sight of the water—I was so relaxed, I couldn’t keep my eyes open!

Since then, it’s been an unspoken understanding that I must put my feet in the ocean—any ocean—at least once a year. Hubby has commented that I’m much more relaxed, and, ahem… affectionate, when I’m at the beach or gliding through the ocean on a cruise ship.

I began doing some research and found that the very act of water in motion causes molecular changes in the air around us, energizing everything from plant growth to the human sex drive.

That explains a lot.

So what energizes you? Do you have a special place where you go to renew your creativity and/or your energy?


Cyrano said...

Cynthia, ahhh. That;s all I can say. Your words brought back my own beach baby memories of the time I spent on the white beaches off the Ft. Lauderdale coast.
It's been a long time since I wiggled my toes in the sand. When it was really hot, I used dig down to where the grains hadn't yet been warmed by the sun. I'd nestle my feet in what felt like cool silk. Ahhhh. What lovely memories.
I have quite a few goals lined up for 2009. The newest one on my list is to make it back to the beach.
Loved the post.
Have a great day,

Sally Kilpatrick said...

Your post got me to thinking. Those feelings that you describe are mine when I go home to landlocked Tennessee. If I really want to recharge, then all I need is a summer day in the middle of nowhere listening to birds crying for Bob White and the wind rustling the leaves of a giant oak.

Great post,

Cinthia Hamer said...

Thank you, ladies for the kind words. Sally, I completely understand what you're saying.

My cousins live on 40 acres in rural Tennessee. When I can't get to the ocean, I'll pack up and head to see them. There's something so relaxing about the atmosphere there.

It's so far removed from anything, the only sounds are the wind, the mooing of cows, and the birds chirping in the trees. At sunset, we're serenaded by the donkeys down the road.

At night, the crickets and the tree frogs join in a joyful chorus celebrating the darkness.

Tamara, if you don't do anything else this year, get back to the beach! I just got back from the Ft. Lauderdale/Hollywood area and it's so pretty. I told hubby that after DD's wedding in September, we need to go and spend a week at Caroline's motor hotel and destress. LOL!

CiCi Barnes said...

Oh man, Cinthia,

I think you and I must have been separated at birth. I am such a beach bum. Unfortunately, I've always lived a few hundred miles from the ocean. But starting at the ripe old age of 2, I've been to the beach every single year of my life at least once a year for a week or so. Hubby dreads the last day of vacation, knowing he'll have to hogtie me to the vehicle to get me home.

There is nothing more soothing than to hear moving water. I didn't even need the research for me to know that. I'm sure I was a fish or some crustacean in another life. After all, my sign is Cancer the Crab.

When I'm not at the ocean, I do have Lake Lanier and Lake Hartwell nearby. I also have a pool in the backyard and a creek running through my property, so I'm always near some body of water. I have a small place on Lake Hartwell, an extremely relaxing place to inspire my writing. I also have a condo in Destin, just in case the entire area is booked, I'll always have a place to go.

By the by, if anyone wants to go to Destin, see me. I'll give you the details for renting the place for a week or so. Just don't expect to get it the last two weeks of July. Those are mine!

Great post, Cinthia. Now I'm ready to write.


Cinthia Hamer said...

Oooh,'ve definitely piqued my interest. I've never been to Destin...we MUST talk!

Will you be at the meeting on Saturday???

Glad you liked the post.

CiCi Barnes said...

I will definitely be at the meeting. I just got on your website and saw where you had a 1964 1/2 Mustang. So did I! Was it red? I can't believe this. I have red 2000 convertible Mustang now. Can't get enough of those horses.


Debbie Kaufman said...

I too love the beach. We are heading there in July. Can't wait. In the meantime, I hold my breath for warmer weather. For me, riding with the convertible top down is a huge recharge. Maybe it looked like middle-aged crisis when I got the car, but I call it "Therapy."

Linsey Lanier said...

My folks weren't big on vacations, so my earliest beach memories are walking the Indiana Dunes as a teen with a guy who took me to the prom (I grew up in the 'burbs of Chicago). I felt like Lawrence of Arabia. The park was massive.

As an adult, my favorite way to relax is to picture myself on the white sands of a seashore, the sound of crashing waves in my ears. A great tension reliever for a stressful tech job.

Cinthia, I'd say your research is right on, as is your soothing post. Some excellent thoughts.


Tami Brothers said...

I too loved the post, Cinthia. I just got back from Florida and we HAD to take a trip to the Gulf Coast so we could say we had put our feet in that side of the ocean. It was COLD!!!! That didn’t stop my son, though. I have video of him splashing in the waves while people all around looked at us like we were crazy for letting him in there… Ahh, fun times…

Ohh, and on that Mustang angle, my hubby and I bought a 68 Mustang from a friend. It needs a LOT of work, but hubby and son are excited about the idea of putting it all back together. Son finally found out the car was going to be his when he hits the big 1 6 . Now we can’t shut him up about finishing the shop and getting started on the car. I’m sure one day I’ll look back at all the nagging and think, Ahh, fun times….

Susan said...

I loved your post especially on this COLD day. THanks for taking me to warmth and good memories.

Mary Marvella said...

I have one of the original 64 1/2 Mustangs. I bought it my first year of teaching. I had to order it and it never made it to a showroom. Prairie Bronze it was called and it was HOT! I still have it.

Tybee Beach was the vacation spot for my family through my childhood. My parents packed up three kids and headed there for a day. The 3 hour ride home was miserable for 5 sunburned folks! But we kept going back there, packed lunches and sand and all.

Ana Aragón said...


Great post. I grew up in Albuquerque, NM, which sits at the base of the Sandia Mountains. The picture of me on this blog was taken this past Christmas from the top of the mountain and I'm looking down on the city.

That's my idea of a relaxing place--a mountain top, with dappled sunshine peeking through the leaves in the heat of the summer. Dipping my toes in a trout stream after a day of hiking the mountain. Roasting hot dogs over an open flame...and then walking back to my cozy cabin with a firm mattress and comfy linens! (No more camping out under the stars for this girl!)


Pamela Varnado said...

I understand how being near water can energize your spirit. As humans we are genetically programmed to respond to the things in nature that speaks most to us. For me, I enjoy the pleasure of snow. Nothing relaxes and makes me feel more connected to myself than curling up with a great romance novel and a cup of hot chocolate while it's snowing outside.

Cinthia Hamer said...

Poor Pam, you don't get much of that connection here in Georgia! I have a friend who takes a winter vacation every year. Her husband and kids ski and she stays behind in the cabin where she knits, reads and enjoys the silence of the snow.

Judging from all your comments and the various ways you connect with your creative side, it doesn't matter where you make the's that you take the time to make that connection.

CiCi, my Mustang was originally white, but my dad did some repair work on it, so it was more "pinto", with splotches of primer red amidst the white. That didn't matter to me, though, I loved that car...wish I still had it.

Mary, one of these days, when you're a famous author, you can hire someone to restore your baby.

Nicki Salcedo said...

I was born on an island, and I love the ocean. I also like putting my feet in fountains. So many things in nature have meditative qualities, but I really like the beach for reading and writing the best!