Okay, last time I had Martha and our friend Linda, and me, all out on the Revere Beach in the area known as Point of Pines. I had just said that I had never been there before...not to that exact spot, anyway...but that, even so, I had missed it.
If I were a really good writer, I’d leave it at that. I’d be all mysterious. I’d get sphinx-like and be a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma, and you’d all puzzle yourselves over what the heck I meant. I mean, seriously, whole Ph.D.s have been built exactly on that sort of thing. Well, of course, that requires that the person being analyzed in such a fashion be a famous writer...whereas I am, more less, just a crank. But that’s fine. I’ve been cranky for years. Why should now be any different?
Actually, what I meant by that was I had missed New England’s beaches. Yes, Texas has beaches, some of them quite amazing. They are tropical beaches...long and hot, with surf-able waves and, in some places (like South Padre Island), wonderful little bars and restaurants along the way.
In fact, those kind of beaches were among the first I ever actually experienced. Remember, I was a desert boy, raised in New Mexico, where there decidedly is no coast, few lakes (and none large), and were even the greatest river in the area, the Rio Grande, is mostly underground. At least in the area where I lived, Albuquerque, it contains a great deal of water, but mostly in the form of the Rio Grande aquifer system. It flows steadily, but beneath your feet.
When, as a boy, my parents took me to a beach, it was either in Texas, or California, or in Hawaii, which we visited exactly once when I was in grade school. I had an uncle and aunt there. So, it was a little more affordable.
Anyway, all of those beaches were of the tropical sort, some even with the proverbial palm trees and even a coconut now and then. And I liked them fine, of course.
But I realized, as I walked there, trailing along behind Martha and Linda as they chatted on about teaching and the academy and mutual friends and what their former students were up to...I missed New England’s beaches. They are frequently chill. They have no palm trees and as for coconuts? Surely you jest. They are often rocky, and their sands are not always soft. We are talking, in some places, something close to gravel.
About the photos: Two today. First, Martha looking very thoughtful on the beach. I love the hat.
Yet, there is something amazing about those beaches. Until you’ve been on one of them on an Autumn morning, when the wind is up, and breakers are fierce, and you walk with your arms crossed tightly against your chest, and, maybe, you shiver a little at the cold...and you raise your face to a sky which is disconcertingly gray-blue, and fierce...
Well, you have not known the real joys of a North Atlantic day.
Anyway, we walked on. I listened to them talk, or tried to. The waves made it difficult to hear what they were saying. I’d just pick up snippets of their remarks now and then... “You know she’s a superintendent now?” “Really? Not surprising...” “Texas politics? They are, well, interesting.” “How do you manage...?” “We’ll be working for Beto...” “The new dean? Well, I wish he were more like...”
And so on.
We had come, I realized, quite a ways. I caught up with them and asked Martha if she was doing all right. She admitted that maybe she should turn around. Linda agreed, noting that if we didn’t do so soon, dinner would be much delayed. So, we pivoted and headed back.
It was now moving on towards sunset. It was increasingly hard to tell where we had come onto the beach. It wasn’t clear which set of stairs we’d used. Fortunately, Linda was an expert at navigating the place and led us to the right exit.
As we left, I turned around for a last glance at the beach...which was now moving rapidly into darkness. We hadn’t been there been very long...no more than an hour or so...but it had been delightful, and we would be back here again before our visit was done.
And it struck me that beaches are by definition often delightful, and fascinating, if only because they are genuine intersections. They are places where two worlds...the earth and the sea...come together. There is a certain joy to them, but possessing a certain danger. They are places of delight, but also of hurricane, and drowning, and mysterious things that swim out of sight, but not out of mind.
And on this beach...perhaps...that was true more than most such. For it was here, I knew, that once there had been here (again!) an amusement park, and many things that were both exotic and new...
But also...but also...crime and the illicit, and, once, a very serious riot.
Which is all for next time.
More to come.
Second photo: a fuzzy little picture that I include for novelty. Those lights you see in the sky? Those are airplanes coming in to Boston’s Logan Airport. It is one long stream of them.
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