The beach called me early this morning. I wanted to start my day walking by the water — always a place of renewal. Does that draw come from the nurture experienced when we were floating in our mother’s womb? Is it from the release that’s felt with baptism or the desire to sail across the blue-green surf to the possibility on the horizon? Whatever the reason, I know when that’s where I must go.
When I arrived just after 7:00, there were only a few people on the shore of Coquina Beach. The sky had a soft pinkish band across the faint blue background. I drew in a deep breath of the salty, cool air and felt so thankful to have that white expanse mostly to myself. My trip had been filled with hours of driving, talking with my son and daughter-in-law about preparations for our soon-to-arrive grandson, and conversations with my cousin, Linda about our family. I’d had the worry of my mother being admitted to the hospital while I was on the road to Charleston. Finally, I’d talked with her doctor and was reassured that she was better and it was okay for me to continue my trip. Now, I could just walk by the emerald water of the Gulf and feel my energy renewed.
After I’d walked for a while, I was ready to ride my bike along the trail that was shaded between the large Australian pines. I’d never seen those whispy gray-green boughs compared to the dark green needles of the pines in North Carolina. The trail offered open views of the water while I was protected from sun-exposure by the trees—the perfect combination of trees and water. I passed a small building with the sign “Changing Station” on the front and I thought it was great that mother’s or grandmother’s with babies had such a nice place to change their diaper. Then I realized it was a Changing Cabana—for slipping on your bathing suit!
As the morning progressed, you could smell charcoal fires tended by families gathered around the picnic tables. Further down the trail, a high school drum line performed at the finish line of a local 5-K race and I stopped to listen, reminded of how my younger son had played the snare. I continued to the south end of the beach where there was a drawbridge and people congregated in lawn chairs and benches to watch the tall sailboats passing underneath, one escorted by a pod of dolphins.
I found myself asking, “What season is it?” because when I packed my car Wednesday morning it was snowing and standing in the shadow of the bridge it had reached 77 degrees. I’d left the gray days, that seemed to dominate winter, behind me and the Saturday sunshine, bright colors of umbrellas and bathing suits, the green water and blue sky all seemed to lift that blanket of winter.
In the past, I would have set a time to leave, made a schedule for the day. But to be in the present, I needed to just focus on what was in front of me, and when I felt like I’d gotten what I needed, I would move on. When the time felt right, I put my bike in the car and bought a cup of fresh-squeezed lemonade and took a final stroll along the shore.
The cold water was refreshing to my feet as I walked in the edge of the surf, navigating around children who were playing. I found myself stopping to watch the smallest of them, the little boys in their sun hats. I imagined my grandson, loving the water like his Dad. How could he be related to us and not love water, I thought.
I felt renewed by my time on Coquina Beach, grateful for that place that was just what I needed.
How about you?
Where is the place you go to for renewal?
How do you know when you need to spend time there?