Feeling the water sloshing

            The playground sits right on the beach.  But for a small wall the perimeter would be indistinguishable, as the sand from the beach spills right over under the swings and the slide.  It is a small playground, but it never feels crowded.  Infinity stretches out all around it.

            The boys take off their shoes; they run and slide and dig.  After awhile, we pack up the sand toys and put them back in the car, pulling out their scooters.  There is a long, paved path that runs along the beach.  One path is for bikers and other things with wheels, but my boys use the pedestrian path, since they are so small and their scooters move only so fast.  People stop to admire Zachary on his scooter, tiny and proficient, and to laugh as Benjamin stands, both feet on the vehicle, willing it to move.

            Zachary himself stops to admire.  The skateboarders jump and twist, practicing moves on a plaza just beside the playground.  He watches, calculating when he will be old enough to join their ranks.

            Then, we pack it all away, scooters and helmets back in the car, as we take it down to basics.  We walk to the edge of the water, where the sand is packed and wet.  We roll up our cuffs, remove our shoes, and stand at the ready.  The first small wave to splash over our feet is shocking, early-April cold.  Zach jumps with delight as each wave hits his feet.  Ben, however, stands stock-still, stiffening just a little with each cold wash.  His eyes are focused; he watches each tiny wave to ascertain whether this one has a chance of making it all the way up to his toes.  His lips are slightly parted; not a smile as much as a breath of welcome.

            “More,” he says quietly after one wave.  He is not speaking to me.  He is asking the ocean to keep giving this feeling, the water on top and the sand slipping away underneath. 

             My grandfather once wrote a poem about going to the beach with my grandmother.  “Susie likes to feel the water sloshing,” the final line reads.  I think of this poem while I watch Benjamin.  Someday he will know the word “sloshing,” and it will be just the word he needs.

            The tide is coming in, and we begin lifting the boys out of the water as the deeper waves come up.  They giggle and squeal now as we toss them up just in time to avoid wetting the rolled cuffs of their pants.  But it is getting late, and it is time to go home for supper.

            Zachary complains, not wanting to end his afternoon.  Benjamin cries.  He is not yet convinced that the ocean is now a part of his life.  One day, he seems to fear, it will roll out and never come back in.

26 responses to “Feeling the water sloshing

  1. There is something so peaceful about being at the beach, perhaps it is the salt air or the sound of the waves…

    A playground at the beach is extra cause for happiness!

  2. This is a beautifully written splash of words. I feel like I was standing with you all, feeling the sand under my toes as Ben asked for more.


  3. I love his “More.”

    This was beautiful.

  4. I want to be there. So badly.

  5. I would like “more.”
    I could use some sloshing.

  6. please post beach photos. i am so jealous.

  7. Sounds like your boys are adjusting just fine to life in CA. Even the strawberry things is understandable. I mean, they are the best food ever, and I would live on a diet of them if I could get them fresh all the time.

  8. I miss the beach so much it’s an ache. Lovely that you and your boys are finding the true joys of feeling the tide wash the sand from beneath your feet.

  9. What a wonderful transition for the boys!

    From “sloshing” in the rain, to “sloshing” on the beach.

    I’ll take the beach any day!

    Beautifully written. I loved this piece!

  10. Another wonderful post. Sounds like the boys are enjoying their new life. 🙂

  11. I am so bad that I have not been over here since you have moved to LA – I can’t believe that!! I hope you are settling in and liking it. I love this post – sloshing is a wonderful part of life!!

    Take care Emily – hope to see you soon . Kellan

  12. I adore splashing too. I always leave wanting more. Beautiful post!

  13. I am just so excited for you and your family! Living so close to the ocean! The beach for a playground! I can’t stop using exclamation points!!!

  14. ah. I know these So.Cal playgrounds well. I can literally see the roller bladers and the sand and water.

  15. Beautiful.

    I grew up very near Lake Michigan, which is very nearly as good as the ocean. Reading this, it makes me long for summer, and home.

  16. This is what I really miss– the discovery that the beach is on your doorstep. I used to work right by the beach in Santa Monica and I loved driving in to work in the mornings seeing the ocean. One day I even took a stack of work reading outside to sit in the sand. I am definitely longing for more beach time.

  17. Man you are making me miss home something awful.

  18. lovely post. i could see it all.

    and the water? never gets much warmer. damn alaskan current.

  19. i think to be young and wise enough not to take the ocean for granted is a wonderful thing.

    ah, the beauty of these images, Emily.

  20. How I wish the ocean was a regular part of my life. How wonderful for your boys and you that it is now. Beautiful.

  21. “One day, he seems to fear, it will roll out and never come back in.”

    That does happen. It happened to me.

  22. He’s a smart boy. “More” indeed.

  23. do some sloshing for me–i do so miss the california beaches. . .

    i’m so so sorry i haven’t been around in a million years. i have a new puppy and we have been outside in the fresh air most of the time. hope to catch up with blogging next week.

  24. I really loved this post. You write with such beauty.

    And “sloshing” is such a good word.

  25. What everyone else said:

    Loved this post – you’re a beautiful writer!