Strolling on the beach

The weather turned warm here this week. It was a bit as if we went straight from winter to summer with no spring, though that isn’t quite fair. Our spring was a bit delayed and fairly short, but we have had a season of flowering trees, tulips and daffodils. The iris are finally in full bloom and it feels like the countryside is waking up. Our little village, which is still very much a summer community is starting to wake up and we are noticing the first crush of summer people this week. The little cottages, often closed up for winter, are starting to show life with cars parked next to them and folks opening the windows to air them out. Beach chairs and umbrellas are starting to appear alongside the bay. The summer only businesses, of which our community has several, are mostly open, with a few just opening on weekends for now. There are a few places where it is a bit harder to find a parking place after a winter free from that problem. We notice a lot of British Columbia license plates. It has been a while since plates from that province have been the majority of the cars parked at local restaurants.

We walk every day and most days we take a walk to the beach, walk a short distance along the bay, and then return up the hill to our house. We recognize the folks who have homes along the way and sometimes talk with them as we walk by. Now, with warm weather, there are a lot of folks we don’t know whom we pass on our walks. Some of the cottages are rented as air B & B or VRBO. Others belong to extended family groups and are occupied by different people during different weeks. There are always new people and when the weather is warm we see a lot more folks whose names we do not know.

With the warm weather and long days, we decided to walk after supper last night. There is plenty of daylight and we were free from evening meetings. After a pleasant dinner on our patio we cleaned up the dishes and headed out for our usual walk to the beach. The tide was all the way in. When the tide is high, Terrill Creek, which we cross on our way to the beach will reverse its flow with water running from the sea to a slew about three miles from the outlet. The beach also is dramatically smaller, which means that where people are really spread out at low tide, we are much closer to each other. When we walk along the beach at high tide when the weather is warm, we are much more likely to talk to the folks sitting on the beach simply because we are all together in a small area.

At the shore we passed a family who appear to be staying at one of the small beach cottages. A preschool aged boy caught my attention. He was sweeping an insect net through the water. I don’t think there was much for him to catch in his net other than a bit of kelp. A big rope of bullwhip kelp would be heavy enough to tear the fragile net. I commented to the young one that it looked to me like he was set to catch something interesting. He said he might catch a fish and told me that he had caught a fish with his fishing pole. I saw the short child’s pole, blue like the net in his hands, lying on the beach gravel. There were a few other toys spread around. An older brother had a large fishing pole and was reeling in line that had been cast out into the shallow water.

In the short time that we walked around, I heard from the younger brother all kinds of things. He told not only about his fishing exploits, but also that he was having pizza for supper. He asked me if I had seen a movie about a happy (or was it hungry?) dinosaur. When I told him that I had not, he said it was probably because it was brand new. Obviously he expected that I would soon make it a point to see the movie, which he found to be interesting.

As we continued our walk, I had to chuckle at how much the young land had told us in a very short amount of time as we walked by. Obviously his mother, who was sitting nearby in a beach chair, didn’t enforce the “don’t talk to strangers” rule at the beach.

I am cautious around children who I don’t know. I don’t want to frighten them and I know that a strange old man can be seen as a threat to children. But I love the enthusiasm and excitement of children and enjoy talking with them when I am confident that it is a safe place for them. The presence of the nearby mother assured me that our conversation wouldn’t be perceived as dangerous. It might have been a bit more threatening had I been alone, but I was walking with my wife, who also loves to talk with children. And the more relaxed atmosphere of summer weather at the beach allows folks to let down their guard just a little bit. Even with all of the tourists our little village is still rural and isolated, far from the dense urban core of Vancouver, just across the border.

I’m ready for summer evenings and leisurely strolls along the beach. I’m ready for short conversations with the summer people. Not all of them will be as excited to tell me as much as they can like the preschooler we met yesterday, but I’m sure i’ll learn some other interesting things from the folks we meet. It does seem unlikely, however, that I will bother to look up the movie about the dinosaur. If I have another conversation with the child, I’m fairly confident he’ll tell me all about it.

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