12 years since I've been to that beach.
We arrived late in the evening, too late for little feet to go into the water. Early the next morning, while my children and my parents slumbered, I tiptoed out of the bunkhouse and found the wooded path to the dunes. Over one rise and then the next, dew from the sea grass soaking my sneakers, and there it was. The Pacific Ocean.
The last time I was here heralded momentous changes in what eventually became my Old Life. I walked on the sand in the predawn light and thought about that old life, the events of the long weekend at the ocean. There is no regret. My life has unfolded and grown and taken the twisty byways. I regret nothing.
Eventually I stopped and turned to head back. As I did so, a juvenile bald eagle flew right over my head and landed on the sand some distance away. I watched him for a few moments, then continued walking. As I crossed back over the dunes to the wooded path, another eagle, a mature adult this time, flew over me and landed down on the sand next to the shore.
An omen? A welcoming? Perhaps. Perhaps nothing more than the typical morning fare for the local eagle population, but seen through the eyes of an infrequent visitor, a special slice of time to be treasured.
For four days we went to the water at every opportunity. We dug toes in sun-kissed sand, shoveled the water right out of the ocean into our buckets, marveled over the amazing designs God puts onto the shells of sea creatures, chased seagulls screaming and flapping into the air. We light fires at night and savored the sweetness of chocolate, marshmallow and graham cracker all melted together. We told stories. We listened. We laughed and we lived in the moment.
As all things must come to an end, so did our sojourn by the sea. I am Home. I return full of thoughts and emotions to sort through; conversations with my parents, vignettes of my children playing on the beach etched into my mind's eye. I am glad to be home. And somewhere, deep in my subconscious, my feet are still standing in salt water, being one with the ocean.