I've lived near the ocean since I was twelve. Well, aside from that quick two year tour in the midwest… but even then we lived on Lake Superior…. which will fool you a bit as trying to be an ocean. I know the smell and sound of her by heart. And while sitting at the beach in the sun is lovely, my true love is walking along the shore. Even better, standing at her edge before a storm. Watching the waves pick up… hearing the wind whip around… the sound of the water crashing onto the rocks and then the sudden sucking noise as it quickly returns to the sea. It's powerful. And since becoming a mother, it always reminds me a bit of birth.
We drove to our favorite beach this week after a good snowstorm. I made the kids wear their new long underwear and packed us all snacks for the way home. We had to park outside the gate and walk in. The cold wind almost surprising after a car ride in a toasty warm car. We huff and puff down the trail and then slip off the side to get a break from the wind. As soon as their boots touch the sand the kids are off. Their usual squabble is replaced by a combination of vast space between them or the two of them shoulder to shoulder looking at creatures in tide pools. Ebb and flow….
They must be so cold, Sophie says. Quickly putting a hermit crab back into the water.
Dad, tell me again why the ocean doesn't freeze, Luke asks.
We walk and walk. Our bodies warm. The gloves come off and jackets get unzipped. The salty air fills my lungs and kisses my skin.
The kids wander ahead of Joe & I, and we begin to talk. About our plans. The farm. How to get from here to there. How long will it take to save enough money to begin building. Can't we really just build a tiny house and rough it? Would the kids hate us forever? Will there be for four or six of us by then, how can our big kids be turning 18 & 20 this fall? Is he sure he is opposed to goats? (I'm slowly winning him over on the last one.) I'm a planner, a dreamer. I need details and goals to motivate me. Joe is pragmatic, steady. I'm thinking of what dairy goats would suit us best and he's thinking about fixing up his parent's old tractor so he can keep the front part of our property cleared until we build. I like to think we make a good pair though.
Will you miss this? I ask him. Will you miss being able to hop in the car and drive thirty minutes to one of the most beautiful beaches in New England?
He is slow to answer. I think about all the years he has spent on a ship at sea. His entire career interwoven with boats and salty air. My sailor boy. And then I think about all the reasons we chose the woods over the ocean. It wasn't an easy decision, but it feels right. It feels like us. Still, I wonder, will I miss it more than I think?
I look forward to visiting, he answers.
And then Luke yells to us, something about icicles at the beach being salty. I am eating the ocean! He shouts. I have a taste. Cold. Salty. Me too, I tell him.