There are so many things to love about a visit to the ocean, but if I had to choose one, I think it would have to be beach walks. I find my soul rejuvenated by a long walk along the edge of the sea, feet in the sand, the constant wash of the water in my ears, my cheeks kissed by sun and wind and my view unbounded. My heart lifts, my chest expands with every inhalation until I feel lighter than I do anywhere else. My mind seems to open up, too, and my everyday whirlwind of competing concerns and thoughts is swept away before that endless stretch of sky and sea and sand.
The best time for these strolls usually is early in the day. One would rarely find a truly crowded beach here in Oregon, as even the most popular are broad and long and offer plenty of room for all. But soon after sunrise only the most dedicated beach lovers are out, kindred souls seeking the same peace and contemplation as me, with the occasional happy-go-lucky canine out reveling in sandy freedom thrown in. Really, though, I’m happy to strike out down the beach at any hour, and I always return calmer, happier and more at peace with myself and the world than when I set out.
I shared such a walk with my 6-year-old grandson on our recent trip to Seaside, Oregon. The beach town boasts a three-mile-long stretch of wide, flat, soft sand running on the south from towering Tillamook Head north to where the Necanicum River spills into the ocean. Sean was a trooper; we walked north at least a mile to the river, keeping an eye out for shells along the way. Oregon beaches don’t have a great variety of interesting specimens — mostly mussels, snails and clams — but the best finds are unbroken sand dollars. Sadly, we didn’t come across any on that walk, but there were plenty of Dungeness crab shells in various states of disintegration to be poked at and examined. (There is nothing more delightful than the musings of a curious child!) We also came across large flocks of brown pelicans and seagulls and watched as some of the former coasted over the waves and then plunged suddenly into the water in pursuit of breakfast. On our way back to our own breakfast, we stopped to check out what the tide had done to a large sandcastle someone had constructed the day before. We had admired how well-built it was and were curious how it had fared. Of course, the tide won, but a bit of the construction remained.
I was happy to have been able to share the joys of a good walk on the beach with Sean, and I believe I saw another generation begin a lifelong love of those wide-open spaces that morning.
— Patty Vanikiotis, associate editor/copy editor
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