Monday, June 23, 2008

At the Beach

I'm on vacation now, two weeks on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Pure heaven! My grandfather was a clever man. He had spent many pleasant visits here with cousins as he was growing up (we're related to Thompsons in Elizabeth City) and in 1957 bought a cottage on the beachfront in Nags Head. I was a glimmer in my mother's eye at that point, but she brought me here as an infant the following year. I've missed some summers (life can do that to you) but this is my 50th year of coming to the beach. 

I didn't come last year, as the beach was the place I spent the most time with my mother, and she died suddenly last March. I spent most of our time together with her here over the last ten years or so, and I couldn't bear the idea of being at the beach without Mom. I came down this year with mixed feelings - I love being here, but wasn't sure if I would be able to do so without making myself sadder about my Mom's passing. After some initial sadness (I feel I will always miss her, here more than ever) I am ok with being here without her. 

One of my Mom's hobbies was bird watching. She wasn't a fully-fledged (pun intended) bird geek, but she knew a ton about birds, and had a long life list. I remember as a child sitting in the living room as she played records of bird songs so she could learn to identify them. After she died I started a life list of my own, as a sort of tribute. I'm not rabid about it, but I'm having fun with it, and being here at the beach has given me lots of new species to add to my list. I like to think she'd approve.