August 6: Bicycle surreys streamed past me on the boardwalk. Happy people pedaled by in sets of two, three or four, with front-row baskets for toddlers and canopies of every hue: red, green, gold, blue-faded-to-gray and fringed candy stripe. On one side of the boardwalk rose small shingled hotels, some nearly a century old; tidy white balconies looked onto the beach and the ocean beyond. In some places, geraniums, petunias, and clematis spilled out of pots. In other places, people spilled out of boardwalk shops with names like Ocean Daze, Coastal Salt, Mug ’n’ Mallet, and Ocean City Rum Shack. (Okay, the latter two weren’t open yet.) The boardwalk shimmered for two and a half miles of promise at 8 am on a very sunny Friday.
August 7: During today’s walk, my headphones expired around mile two. My book! My distraction! You know where I’m going with this: I accepted the silence, and it was divine.
August 8: The other night, I went back to Sisters Wine Bar for rosé and music. Tonight, a Las Vegas-style singer hosted an impromptu anniversary party for a couple celebrating (in June) 32 years of marriage. He urged the couple to rise from their table and dance. Then, carrying his microphone around the room, he roused to dance — among the smiling strangers — the couple’s “best man and maid of honor,” the “minister and her husband” and even “the caterer and the florist.” By the time he had completed his circuit, nearly the entire room was on its feet swaying to the music for this faux (but funny) party. Thirty minutes later, a new couple arrived. When the singer asked, they happily announced that they were celebrating their 40th anniversary that day. The rest of us cheered, laughed and groaned in equal measure.
August 9: Sometimes when the sun is strong but not fierce, the breeze mild and the humidity tolerable, I can hear my father proclaim, “Today will be a perfect beach day.” And off we’d go, to navigate the waves and nap in the shade of a striped umbrella that he would plant with vigorous sideways strokes. And then we would go home again, hoping that tomorrow would be the same. Thank you, Dad, for helping me spot today’s glory and tomorrow’s possibility.
August 10: Rubbing sleep out of their eyes, my young niece and nephew stepped off the airplane from Des Moines and into our beach-bound car. Just a few hours (and several donuts) later, they were leaping into the ocean foam. My niece and I found ways to dance with every wave. And we perfected the Flying Fish, where I flung her over a cresting wave in a graceful dive. By the end of a perfect day, we were rubbing sand out of our hair and yearning only for our pillows in our last nightfall dance.
August 11: At the beach today, four wet-suited swimmers stepped into the surf in front of us and hoisted colorful commas of nylon high into the sky — to begin miles of kitesurfing up the Atlantic coast. Five seagulls wheeled and dived just ten feet over our heads to pinch the fish protruding from the mouth of their lucky seagull friend. And on the ride home, we saw no horses but we did see a proud elegant mushroom growing on top of a pile of poop. Blessings all.
August 12: I joined my brother-in-law, sister-in-law and niece for a spirited game of Uno. We yelped with each Wild Card Draw Four, giggled when young Ella tried to distribute winning cards to protect us from an onerous “draw,” and shook our heads in wonderment about how many darn yellow cards we kept drawing (and how often we had to shuffle the discard pile). Finally, after nearly an hour of skips, reversals and Bam!-Draw-Four — along with throat-hurting laughter — Loyd won. As we put the game away, we stumbled upon the rest of the cards. We were literally playing with half a deck.
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