Ah… Summer. I think I spend most of the year thinking about how I can’t wait until it is Summer. And, let’s be honest, being in Southern California I don’t really have much to complain about, but everything just feels right in Summer for me. Perhaps it is because I was born in Summer. As long as I can remember, the start of Summer was marked by my birthday party and 4th of July fireworks followed by NO SCHOOL! What could be better than that?
So, we are knee deep in Summer. A visit to a familiar childhood beach sent me soaring through memoryville recently. Not really sure why it hasn’t been a beach I take my own kids to more frequently. I have bad memories of parking the car there being particularly troublesome and I have this image in my head of having to walk, like, very unbearable distances before we settled into our little beach spot for the day. That must be it. Of course, though, it wasn’t nearly as awful as I remembered. In fact, it was probably even better than several of the beaches I’ve tackled with my own complaining little ones in tow.
Here’s the story: a few weeks ago, a childhood friend of my husband’s let us know he was going to be in town and asked to meet up and get our kids together at the Oceanside Harbor. (He also has two boys, very close in age to ours.) We met at Oceanside Harbor Fish for lunch. This place. I mean, it’s right there. At any moment, one of us could, conceivably, hop in the car and pick up (what I believe to be) the best fish and chips in California and have it back at the house in around a half an hour. Thinking now of all the times I’ve order fish and chips off the menu of some overpriced pub or restaurant and been thoroughly disappointed because it was nothing like Harbor Fish. (Or, Harbor Fish South – which is the name of the place we most often frequent in Carlsbad.) So. Good. (Note to self: Go here next time I need a pick-me-up. Especially at the harbor.)
Flood (deluge!) of childhood memories: feeding fries to the seagulls (which, of course, signs now discourage you from doing), sticky picnic benches, napkins flying away, nom noming on battered fish while longingly looking at boats and wondering if any of these sea-worthy vessels had travelled long distances. In fact, the last time we ate at Harbor Fish a few years ago was when a friend of my husband’s docked his actually-travelled-across-the-world yacht in Oceanside for the night and asked us to meet up. So, suspicions confirmed, stuff like that actually does happen here!
When I was little, there was an ice cream parlor/candy shop next door. Like, the kind of candy shop filled with barrels and jars of every kind of candy you could image. Dinner was usually followed by a dip into this sugar shack. Bubble gum ice cream cone. I remember this so vividly. Also, hours spent working away at a golf ball sized jaw breaker. My tummy hurts just thinking about this now.
Back to the story, after lunch we were off to the beach where we, amazingly!, found a very good parking spot. A relatively easy and short walk later, we were setting up chairs and the umbrella. Little boys did their thing digging in the sand and bobbing around in the waves. At one point, I went for a little walk down to the jetty. The entire afternoon we were there, the clouds hung low giving us great cover from the sun. As we discovered while visiting with our friend, this would be the only time this Summer that we would be seeing them. Travels and setting up home in a new city would keep them from spending more time in his hometown. So, there was no need to rush. Little boys continued to play and big boys tried to catch up on a year’s worth of conversation. I wandered on the beach, snapping (or, clicking is probably a better verb?) pictures, marveling at how a beach can look so exactly the same after all these years.
It was well after 7:00pm when the sun finally dipped below those low-hanging clouds and the beach just lit up. It was beautiful. As we were packing up and walking back to the cars, the sky was blue and the setting sun was casting a warm orange glow on all of us. Blessing us, I like to think.