Some of my best childhood memories are of 4th of Julys spent on the beach. I especially remember the bicentennial, I know, this dates me! I went to the beach early that year, & there was so much more activity than usual. The regulars at my local beach were setting up their sites early with blankets, chairs, food, etc. & there was excitement & a sense of community in the air. I eventually got hungry & went home for lunch, but afterwards as I was heading back to the beach I saw what I thought was Paul Revere wearing a costume complete with three cornered hat riding his horse down Pacific Coast Highway.....
Over the last few years I've become rather grumpy about the crowds & the trampling of nature on the 4th, but this year I felt like going to the beach. I went to my favorite spot on a usually sparsely populated stretch of coast & there was excitement & electricity in the air. Kids, dogs, umbrellas, tents, massive sandcastles, large gatherings......there was a lot going on. I decided to do a long walk through it all, & was reminded of my childhood in Southern California.
I didn't have my camera with me, which is probably good as a heavy marine layer was settling on the crowd blocking light, but mostly because there was so much going on I'd probably still be there clicking away. Something that has always fascinated me about the beach was out in full force.
I love the way that people open up there. They become free & somewhat feral. They stop worrying about what other people think about them. They have fun. They dig holes, draw in the sand, get dirty. They run & play. They create driftwood structures. They build fires. They spend hours collecting pebbles. They climb rocks, splash in the water, giggle, swim, surf, & fish.
On my walk I found a group carefully stacking sticks of kindling creating a tall square tower, presumably for later lighting, & a beautiful full scale sunken living room with semi-circular sofa & round coffee table with inset ice-bucket all sculpted out of sand oriented towards the firework launching area, of course. The beach turns regular people into sculptors! I'm not the only one who gets all fired up creatively when I hit the sand!
As much as I was brought up to growl about tourists crowding our sand & water, I think that they sometimes demonstrate this power that the beach has over us the best. There's just something cool about seeing really out of shape pale pink people in swim suits dropping their inhibitions & having fun in the great outdoors. It demonstrates the healing power of nature. And what better way to celebrate our freedom.