My toes submerge into cloud white powder that lines the seashore. The holy ground beckons me to remove my shoes, be mindful of where you tread. It cushions every step. The sand thickens and turns from fluffy powder to a finely packed mat, smooth and chilled. I approach the gentle whooshing waves, and the sand is like ice. One foot in the water and I jump from its coolness. It's cold, but I like it. The second step is not so bad. The clear water curls around my toes and pushes forward then trickles back in a steady motion.
I am not the only one entranced by the steady sound, the gentle swooshing. A little girl plays in the waves, squatting in the water, oblivious to its frigid temperatures as she fills her sand bucket. Her mother stands nearby, calf-deep in the water, phone to her ear, raving to a friend or family member about how wonderful the beach is. Behind me, a man lies on the beach doing nothing but listening to the sound and basking in the late afternoon light.
Puffy clouds line the horizon where the sun is headed. It shines brightly just above them illuminating the water with a trail of light. I can't help but think; I belong here. A fling of sandpipers zip past, diving and circling in rapid syncopated motion. When facing one way they are nearly invisible, their dark browns blend in with water and sky, but when as a group they turn, all their white feathers catch the sunlight at once in a brilliant flash of light. Their angled wings are perfect for maneuvering fast, confusing anything that would try to catch them.
When they have found the opportune, undisturbed spot, they land in one crowd, dozens of tiny birds. Together, they scurry about on twig legs and stab their knife beaks into the sand with precision. They move with the waves, retreating with a rush of scurrying feet whenever the wave approaches, then they immediately return as the water pulls back again, catching as many little creatures as they can before running back again.
Royal Terns casually stand on the water's edge, not nearly as skittish as the little sandpipers. They don't run as I approach them. They look to the water and groom their fluffy feathers, warming themselves in the sun. Bright orange long beaks and black ruffled heads, they stand regally on the sand.
Sometimes I'm too busy, taking pictures, walking, and thinking, that I forget to stop and take in the beauty. Sometimes I get caught up in life and forget I live ten minutes from the beach. Like the birds and the people, I want to stand on the shore and take in the sounds of the waves, their lulling motion, and the suns inviting rays. I want to stay there and get lost in it until I forget everything else. Because enjoying the sand, the waves, and the sun is all that truly matters. So, remind me to never take the beach for granted.