It's looking like 2010 is going to go down as the year in which the beach became not a vacation for us, but a habit. Indeed, a weekly habit: Saturday we went to the beach where we've vacationed almost every year since Jim and I met in 1994. We've been going to the beach almost every weekend since this past January; during Charlie's recent Spring Break, we went a couple of times. We used to never go in the "off season" as Charlie had such a tremendously difficult time transitioning to and from the beach. But he seems to be handling this much, much better.
The other reason we never visited the beach in the fall, winter and spring was that Charlie could not be dissuaded from jumping into water that was of a more polar bear sort of temperature. Even though he did put on his swimsuit Saturday morning, and though he did pack his boogie board in the trunk of the white car, he didn't make any effort to get into the waves. And, while he asked Jim and me to bring the boogie board to the beach, and while we responded "nah," he didn't get upset at all; a couple of weeks ago, he was not very happy when he had the board on the sand a few weeks ago and couldn't go in. I wondered yet again if there's something going on whereby Charlie asks, asks and asks for something that he's really wanted in the past but he's really testing us and doesn't (necessarily) want whatever he's asking for. Indeed, he'd kind of rather not have whatever he's asking for, but can't stop himself from asking.
It was just around 60 degrees fahrenheit Saturday, nowhere near as warm as it was last Easter weekend (and certainly not as warm as it was earlier this week). Charlie got into the car "avec winters" and then took off his fleece jacket and gloves in the car and threw them in the trunk. It was breezy down at the beach but he said "no" to wearing the jacket, and a very firm "no" when I said I'd carry it in my bag.
Our walk on the beach had been cut short last weekend when Charlie spotted a small dog running on the sand without a leash. Just as we were walking onto the sand we spotted a woman with a brown Scotch terrier walking in the same direction. Charlie hung back and then walked on, most cautiously. By the time we were on the sand the woman and the terrier were already turning around.
So we had the beach all to ourselves.
It was low tide and we were able to walk much farther out than we ever had.
We went as far as there was sand and then Charlie led the way back, over flora and fauna.
And over the foliage.
I spied a little turtle.
We were warmed by the sun, so that Charlie's t-shirt and swimsuit didn't seem a bad idea at all.
We got takeout at a diner and drove to another beach.
Charlie ran back and forth with a pleased smile.
And then we heard "up, Dad!" and Charlie was running to Jim on seeing two medium-sized dogs running onto the beach. Jim obliged by piggy-backing him, Charlie watching the dogs with wide, wary eyes. Once he got down he ran to the parking lot and ran the length of it, noisily. I ran after him; Charlie ran back to the car. I was thinking he'd run into it for security but then he turned and did another fast trot in the lot before getting into the car and buckling up.
Jim and I exchanged looks to remind each other of Charlie feeling the lag about such an abrupt end to his day at the beach.
Charlie was cheerful all the way home, singing and humming from time to time. (I also really think it had good for Charlie to do those two fast runs in the parking lot, as if he knew he needed to run out his fears and being upset) We went for a walk; we used the computer; Charlie wanted another bike ride as the sun was setting. We went for a short ride around our town to check things out and then Charlie asked for another walk. And then, after attempting to go to bed, another walk under the stars.
Besides being the year of becoming regulars at the beach, 2010 looks like it's also going to go down as the year of walking with Charlie.