Friday, May 9, 2008


Free man, you will forever love the sea!

The sea's your mirror, you observe your soul
Perpetually as its waves unroll
(Baudelaire, "Free Man and the Sea")

There's almost nothing I enjoy so much as watching Dylan and Alexa on the beach. The wide open expanse of sand and sea seems to incite in them a primal joy that ignites their spirits from the moment their little toes touch the shore. And those same little toes are impervious to the water's icy chill: while I quickly withdrew my own foot about a nanosecond after I decided to test the temperature, they raced toward the waves without hesitation, not stopping until they were waist-deep.

Alexa became one with the ocean: she emerged with hair full of sand and seaweed, her skirt and diaper soaked through, her skin glistening with salt and granules. "That's a big pool," she declared happily.

It was Dylan who initiated the impromptu yoga session (see above photo). I guess the sound of the surf reminded him of those "sounds of nature" yoga cd's.

I used to worry about how being a parent would inhibit my innate love of spontaneity. All that planning: diapers, food, extra clothing, bathroom stops, et cetera. But we drove out to Hammonassett State Beach on a whim, in the middle of a Friday afternoon. I threw a few necessities into a bag, grabbed the sunscreen, and we were off. And as I sat back on the sand watching my children frolic, I realized that while I can't exactly run off to Colorado or even New York on a moment's notice, I can still derive great pleasure from basking in Dylan and Lexi's unbridled joie de vivre. It's spontaneity of a different nature: the thrill of being "surprised by joy" in observing the simple beauty of kids at play. None of the photos I snapped accurately captured the vivacity of the moment, and by summer's end, the kids will likely have forgotten the trip altogether, but for me, so much of what makes the memory precious in the pure sense of the word is that I'm acutely aware of the fleeting nature of little kid joy. Before long, Dylan will be checking out the chicks in bikinis, and Alexa will be worried about how her behind looks in her own two-piece (which, by the way, had better not have anything scrawled across the butt! God, how I hate that fashion trend!).

But there's no point in dwelling on the future when the present is so much fun.

Live in the sunshine, drink the sea, swim in the wild air. (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

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