Keeping the sand between my toes

Mar. 28, 2013 @ 05:05 AM

Family is at the heart of southern tradition, and one of my family’s favorite traditions is spending time at the beach. I was very fortunate as a child, growing up in a coastal town near the beach in South Carolina. I have since spent the majority of my summers by the beach, and I know it will always hold a special place in my heart.

When I was little, going to the beach as a family meant packing a cooler and a bag of snacks and spending all day in the sun, getting a hint of sunburn. It meant building sandcastles and collecting seashells and jumping over waves. My siblings and I could spend the entire day searching for shark teeth and chasing little crabs as they dashed back to their hideouts below the sand, just out of our reach.

As I have grown older, the beach has come to represent those wonderful memories and today it is a source of continuous peace and tranquility. I love going to the beach for sunbathing or beachcombing or stargazing. I love bringing a blanket, a picnic lunch and a good book to enjoy while I listen to the sound of the crashing waves. Gazing out upon the horizon, the ocean stretches and spreads as far as my eyes can see.

I have a favorite spot on the beach, a few blocks away from the pier and nestled among the sand dunes and luxurious beach homes I dream about owning. It is my secret stretch of sand, away from the grand hotels and tourist-laden resorts.

In the South there is a long beach season, lasting most of the year if we are lucky and Mother Nature permits. During the Fourth of July festivities, my family and I like to bring our foldable lawn chairs to the beach at night and watch as fireworks launch off the pier and light up the sky. And although it may be a little chilly to go tanning or swimming now, it is the perfect weather for strolling in the sand or dog walking by the water’s edge.

Every time I tell people that I used to live at the beach and my immediate family still lives there, the response is always the same — one of envy. They look at me with expressions on their faces as though I just told them I used to live on Mars. They tell me I am lucky and how they wish they could live at the beach, too.

My family and I will always preserve our tradition of abundant visits to the beach. We value this tradition and feel the need to preserve what is good about the simplicity of life by the southern beaches. No matter where the beaches may be — the secluded shores of the Outer Banks or the swarming coasts of Myrtle Beach — they will continue to be full of treasured memories for me and my family.

Old friends and new acquaintances alike are already inquiring if I miss the beach. In reply I tell them that the sand may brush off my towel and pour out of my shoes, but it will always find a place to remain between my toes and in my heart.