I love ocean beaches. But summer heat, blaring sun, loud music and crazy crowds just don’t love me. Forever the good sport while raising my family, I risked exacerbation of multiple sclerosis and heat exhaustion by hitting the beaches during peak season. Now that my babies are grown, the beach is on my own terms. And it’s wonderful.
About an hour from my front door lays an 18 mile stretch of Atlantic coastline. With the exception of about 12 weeks out of the year (June, July and August) this brash and bawdy - some say – “honky –tonk” coastline is empty and serene. I can park right next to the beach, drag my canopied chair out onto the sand and watch the sunrise as the tide roles in. The New Hampshire sand is coarse, the air ranges from brisk to downright frigid and the water never gets warmer than 65 degrees. In my humble opinion, no world beach can capture the splendor of my beloved Hampton Beach off season.
When school resumes from summer break, I begin my biweekly sunrise treks to the ocean. I pack my little car with necessities and maybe a blanket to snuggle in. My journey begins just before daybreak.
The streets are deserted and I can cruise through the beach town effortlessly, not like the three hour commute of peak summer days. My favorite parking spot is reached in just under an hour. I sit for a minute still inside the car listening to the ocean waves crash upon shore. The fishy saline odor of washed up seaweed hits my senses.
This trek has been repeated so often that the walk from the car to the deserted beach is reached effortlessly. Even though I may be handicapped, a couple of giant beach bags and a back pack, with my crutches or cane gets me to my destination. A canopy chair is set up to face the rising sun and the incoming tide. Bags are at my side. Every thing that I could possibly need at this present moment is within arms reach.
There is something divine about the awakening of a new day. As our star Sol peaks up over the horizon sending sparkling jewel illumination on the approaching waves, my heart swells, my head swims and my spirit soars. I gaze at the sunrise, stupefied each and every time. With a million diamonds shimmering before me, beckoning unashamedly for honor and recognition, I whisper St. Francis of Assisi’ Canticle of Brother Sun…
…Praised be You, my Lord, with all your creatures,
Especially Sir Brother Sun,
Who is the day and through whom You give us light.
And he is beautiful and radiant with great splendor,
And bears a likeness of You, Most High One…
As the sun ascends, so does my inner strength. All seems right in the world. A new day promises fresh beginnings and a promise of hope for the downcast.
One’s five senses seem to be enhanced at the beach. Vision is a little more acute, hearing is intensified and you instinctively breathe more deeply, taking in the scents of the salty air. I bury my naked feet in the already warm coarse sand and feel oneness with the nature around me; a tremendous respect with all of creation. The ocean breeze kicks up and I feel a cool spray of mist that is cleansing and purifying.
…Praised be You, my Lord through Brother Wind
And through the air, cloudy and serene
And every kind of weather
Through which You give sustenance to Your creatures.
I honor the power and unpredictability of the sea, even though now I am relieved of its tranquility. It is a beautiful calm, autumn day. The ocean has a rhythmic roar as the waves advance and retreat. It is brilliant white before me now as the sun arises.
I start to read my book. Soon, the sun rises higher and the brilliant white glare is gone. The water takes on teal and blue colors, reflected from the sky. I pause, reflect a moment and pray again.
…Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Water
Which is very useful and humble, precious and chaste…
…Praised be You, my Lord, through our Sister Mother Earth
Who sustains and governs us,
And produces varied fruits with colored flowers and herbs…
…Blessed are those who endure in peace…
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