Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Observations from the Beach

My goal since starting my new daily writing practice, of which I now have four weeks completed, is to do at least one piece of observation writing per week. Trying to vary locations and time of day each week.

I am sure I will get back to my coffee shop writing later this fall. For now the weather is too wonderful to not be outside writing. Each new location has it's own unique story to offer.

This week's observation location is the beach. I love the beach.


I love the beach not for the glory of sunbathing, I have no desire to sweat among the throngs of people, although I do have a strong affection for the smell of Coppertone Sunscreen.

No, what I love about the beach is the early morning hour, the dusky evening hour, the off-season, the isolated locations. The beauty, the calm, the stillness...

The only items on my ultimate beach wish list on this day are the early morning hour, the beauty and the stillness, at least for now.

There is a light breeze and a slight chill in the air. An occasional aluminum fishing boat putters past me in the channel on its way to the Big Lake. I hear snippets of conversation from two ladies on their morning walk, they must be walking a loop because I hear the same voices about every ten minutes.


I arrived at the beach at half past eight, after a quick stop into the nearest Starbucks for my Chai Latte and a blueberry scone.


As I pulled into the parking lot I was pleasantly surprised to find it for the most part still deserted. Although this will not be the case for long, since it is a Friday still in the early part of August and the temperatures are predicted to be in the mid-80's today with no humidity. A perfect beach day.


Having arrived early I was able to secure a prime location, a fairly clean picnic table close to the channel.


I knew I wanted to position myself directly across from the gigantic McMansion that is in its second year of construction. I love the design of the place, the style paying tribute to the Victorian era. It is just so BIG though. I really have no problem with somebody building a place like this, what I object to is where they have decided to locate it, smack dab in the middle of beach going, camera toting humanity. Then just because they can they have evoked their right to limit the access of the local residents to our city's pride and joy, the Big Red Lighthouse. Sure you can see it from the side that I am currently sitting on, but until you have stood on those red steps, looked up and marveled at its beauty up close, only then will you fully understand the true specialness of Big Red.


I am amazed by the people here already by 9 a.m. setting up for a day at the beach. I think I am amazed at that because I don't have that much sit in me. I tend to be a restless one and need to wander  and explore after an hour or so.


A young family of five arrived shortly before 9 a.m., three little boys, mom and dad. I think they have been eyeing my prime location since they keep looking over my way, have yet to unpack their bags of beach goodies and have been here for at least 15 minutes. Well they will have to wait a little longer since I am in no hurry today.

The children are getting restless though since I just heard the phrase "If I have to count to three" uttered from dad's mouth. Maybe they should unpack those beach bags and set up camp for the day.


I love to sit here and watch the variety of boats float past in the channel; small aluminum fishing boats, small, medium and large sailboats, and my favorite the wooden Chris Craft boats. Hand crafted beauties from a by-gone era.


Back to the family of five. Dad has just enlisted the help of a couple of kayakers to get the boys' Wiffle Ball out of the channel. I think it is definitely time to unpack.


Maybe the trick to walking on the other side of the channel is to look like you belong. The hardest part though is getting past the guard in the guard house at the entrance of the association that is over there.


My constant companions this morning are the seagulls. They perch on the rail in front of me, they circle my picnic table, hoping I am sure for a crumb of my blueberry scone to land their way.

The family of five has now deserted their picnic table and have inched closer in my direction with their bags, covering their move by playing a game of tag. Now I just want to state that there are plenty of other picnic tables on this section of beach. Even another set of two just a little farther down the beach and those are just as close to the channel as mine are.


The rebel in me wants to stay here as long as possible just to torture these people, but eventually I will have to leave because of that Grande Chai Latte that I drank earlier.  Part of me wants to leave now to see how quickly they swarm my tables.

Writing at the beach could become addictive, just not at 5 a.m., which is when I normally write. So that would throw off my newly established routine which is still in its infancy and best left to grow for a while yet.

The time has come for me to depart. I return my camera, notebook and pen to my lovely green camera bag, sling the bag strap across my body and trudge through the sand back to my car, all the while keeping my eye on the family of five. I am in my car ready to go and they remain on their benches near the water. Maybe they don't want to appear to be the eager beavers they really are.

I back out of my parking space and decide to do a loop of the big parking lot, thinking they will make their move if they aren't being watched. Also the direction I am going is where the restrooms are located, so it wouldn't seem weird to them that I am driving that way instead of exiting the park. I linger a few minutes on the far side of the parking lot and then start back toward the area where I had been sitting.

Much to my amazement they are back by their car, stowing their beach bags in the back and buckling the two youngest boys into their car seats. All that restlessness for nothing. At least they added interest to my story even if the ending wasn't what I expected.

10 comments:

  1. I rather like unexpected endings in stories! What a lovely area to write in. I can see the specialness of "Big Red".

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  2. My sister had told me about the new access rules to Big Red. I found the in at http://www.mlive.com/news/grand-rapids/index.ssf/2014/05/restricted_access_to_hollands.html Next time I am in the area I will try for a Tuesday or Thursday.

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  3. Thanks so much for the visit to the beach this morning. I love all of your photos; my favorite is the first channel photo. Love how you write Sarah. I feel like I'm there in your stories.

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  4. I love the beach too! What a perfect spot to take pictures and write. I really like your first image, it makes me feel like I am walking on the beach. Your story ending was a surprise, I really thought the family was going to come and sit at your table.

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  5. I expected just like you . . . Maybe the children had worn out the 1.2.3. Warnings so they had to pack up and go home.
    Maybe . . .

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  6. I too love the beach most in its off-peak moments. I usually wait til the end of the day, when the tourists have gone back to their hotels to clean up and go to dinner, and the only folks in sight are a few locals walking their dogs or maybe fishing. I love that you were curious enough to check on what would happen to your vacated picnic table. Not what I expected, either!

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  7. The beach is the best first thing in the morning with a bit of bite in the air, lovely piece Sarah and what a pity about Big Red ...

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  8. i love an empty beach first thing in the morning and just before the sun sets. what a treat to live so close that you can do this often!

    ~alm

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  9. Love your story....such a "familiar" place now for me. The huge mansion, Big Red, the beach. We had a Chris Craft boat when I was a teenager. I water skied behind that beautiful boat hundreds of times. I do love your observation writing!! Keep it up, a great way to spend a part of your day.

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  10. Beautiful images and a great story! Makes me wonder why the family packed up! Love the lighthouse!

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Thank you so much for visiting today and taking the time to read my thoughts on life. :)