Age Eight: Snow, or Sand?

First trip to the beach: visions of sand and water and warm sun, although I had never seen sand and water. Or at least not that kind of water.

Daddy believed in getting an early start. He got up very early anyway, so leaving at four in the morning seemed like a good idea. We would have half the trip behind us by breakfast time. I remember being feverish the night before, certain that I was coming down with something that would spoil the trip. I couldn’t get to sleep, but then, all too soon, my mother was shaking me awake. We packed ourselves in the car and headed out into the darkness.

We broke our eight-hour trip by stopping for breakfast in Meridian, Mississippi. (The restaurant, Weidmann’s, still exists.) Another four hours in the car, and we finally reached what I now know were the pine barrens of the Florida panhandle, and then, looming on the right side of the car, were these low hills so white they hurt my eyes, and at first I thought there must be some mistake. Was it snow? “That’s it,” my daddy must have said. “That’s the beach.” And then the water came into view, all blues and greens and white foam, and all that sky . . .

The beach and water were wonders to me. But my parents had made one slight miscalculation. We went in March. Apparently, it hadn’t occurred to them that the weather could be nippy in Florida, too.

Chilly Florida beach

Here I am playing on the beach, wearing my fine navy “spring” coat with the big pearl buttons over my red two-piece bathing suit! I seem to be wearing sandals with socks. (There’s a photo of me without the coat, but that one stays private. I was a chunk.)

In spite of the cool weather, I loved the beach, and I still do. There’s something about the power and the vastness of the ocean that humbles and soothes me. Or makes me feel playful and free, like the little girl in this photo.

 
 

9 thoughts on “Age Eight: Snow, or Sand?

  1. “In spite of the cool weather, I loved the beach, and I still do. There’s something about the power and the vastness of the ocean that humbles and soothes me. Or makes me feel playful and free, like the little girl in this photo.”
    Do you ever wonder if we are drawn to the waters because t that was our ancient home.

  2. We always started trips in the wee hours, too, with the first stop being breakfast.

    Fun photo with the coat over the swim suit!

  3. My Dad would always start our roadtrips at 3 or 4 in the morning too! I think it’s because we kids would wake up all excited but then conk out in the backseat and he could drive at least the first leg of the drive in peace.

    Love your description of the ocean’s impact; I feel the same way.

    1. Starting out early made a lot of sense from the peace standpoint, and also when we went on trips in the summer, we could go a lot of miles before the car got so hot! Thanks for the comment!

  4. Since I lived on the beach, I never had quite that epiphany, but I can understand it. I think we all have an ancient connection to the water and, for me, the waves slapping on the shore feels like my mother talking to me 🙂
    You don’t look particularly chunky – are you sure you were a chunk? My mother always told me I was. She went on and on about it, but when I look back at pictures of myself, I’m surprised that I don’t appear to be chunky at all when I was little. I believed I was because she drilled it into my head so I always felt very self conscious – particularly in a bathing suit.

    1. Oh Susan. Here’s another experience we have in common. My mother was always watching my weight. My dad’s sisters were heavy, and I guess that scared her. From my earliest memories, somebody was always watching what went in my mouth, and I was very self-conscious about my my weight. I still am!

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