the beach

There is a little creek on the other side of the road at the bottom of my parents’ property. My parents asked the neighbor man if they could have access to a section of it for their grandkids to play in and he said yes.

My mother calls the little shady stretch of creek “The Beach.”

My younger son, especially, is head over heels in love with it. He got to help Grandmommy with some of the beach clean-up and afterwards he couldn’t stop talking about it. Everything was The Beach This and The Beach That.

The first time I went to the beach, he was beside himself with excitement. He leaped out of the van, leaving the door open, and took off running.

“Come back here and shut the van door!” I hollered.

He paused and gave me a frantic look. “I have to get to the beach!”

I let him keep going and shut the door myself.

That was the afternoon that I took all four kids, plus the Fresh Air girl. My mother was at the beach, too, and she and I sat in the creek in our lawnchairs and visited while the children explored.

The scenery brought to mind a picture that I’ve recently pinned: a fallen tree over a creek with the title “The Original Playstation.”

At first I thought a playstation was one of those backyard climbing contraptions, but then I realized that they were referring to the video game thing. Oh.

It was our Fresh Air girl’s first creek experience of her visit. She was terrified of the water spiders.

I finally got sick of her pussy-footing around and leveled with her. “The water spiders are harmless. That’s a fact. It’s up to you to decide if you’re going to let them keep you from playing or not.”

“Okay,” she said as she stepped into the water. “If I get bitten, it’s all your fault.”

“You won’t get bitten,” I said.

Nobody got bitten.

My younger son thought it’d be great fun to dip the top of his head in the water. He did it a couple times before moving over to another spot.

He kneeled down on a rock and then, moving really fast, stuck his head under the water.

Except the rock angled out under the water and so he smacked his head on the rock.

He handled it really well—just clutched his head and held real still. I laughed so hard at him, and even in his pain he was smart enough to realize that it was a pretty dumb, and therefore hilarious, mistake.

Then my mother, also fed up with the Fresh Air girl’s high-pitched shrieks at everything that moved, announced to her, “I’ll give you a dollar if you lay down in the water.”

There was a bit of bargaining back and forth. The final terms were that she had to lay down on her back far enough to get her ears wet.

It took her a while to get horizontal—she kept popping up because she was so cold—but she finally laid all the way down while we stood around her cheering our heads off.

Of course, the bet stood for all of the kids.

They put my mother out five dollars, fair and square.

And that’s how we spent our afternoon at the beach.

This same time, years previous: drilling for sauce, peach and/or nectarine tart, thoughts on breastfeeding


  • the domestic fringe

    Sounds like a great afternoon. I remember the first time I ever swam in a lake. I was 22. I am a city kid too. To be honest, lake swimming still creeps me out a little, but I do it, because I want me kid's childhood to be different than mine. It's all a matter of what you are accustomed to.

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