The Cove Journal
by JoDee Samuelson
The tide has been out all afternoon, but now as the water approaches and sand bars begin to shrink, mothers reluctantly prepare to leave their little settlements out in the Cove. As they ease their way out of comfortable beach chairs and assess their belongings, they call out to children and puppies to announce that departure is imminent. When this gets no attention, they resort to more drastic means: “We’ll stop for ice cream on the way home.” Ears perk up and heads turn towards this interesting voice. Still, it is a long challenging battle to herd a salty sun-drenched brood into a small marching unit.
Eventually everything is gathered under one roof, as it were, and mothers head to shore with arms and strollers laden down with blankets, buckets and balls, folding chairs and umbrellas, wet towels, sunscreen lotion, empty water bottles, crumpled chip bags, and damp dog-eared copies of Woman’s Day and Martha Stewart Living (filled with recipes to try in the future: chicken casserole with bread crumbs on top, or burgers with toppings of goat cheese and chopped cilantro—imagine! they look so good in the magazine). Like Pied Pipers, the mothers are followed from beach to parking lot by straggling trails of hot sticky children with seaweed in their hair and sand between every toe.
For those of us who no longer have young children at home, this scene is full of amusement and nostalgia. Fortunately we can still take part in these summer rituals, for summer visitors pull us down to the shore, force us to lie on wet towels on a sand bar and feed us chips (poutine-flavored chips which, we agreed, really did taste like gravy—if that’s a good thing). Their children bring us hermit crabs and dead jellyfish, and we all return home smelling like slightly ponky shellfish.
Yesterday one group of summer visitors arrived and another left. In the brief overlap we lunched on yellow beans, red potatoes, salad greens and fresh peas, all from our garden, the height of pleasure in this ripening month of August. Then there were the fond good-byes and honks and arms waving out the window as the car of our loved ones started off on the long drive away from the Island.
Today the whirligigs are twirling in our backyard and clouds scuttle across the sky. We settle in with new guests (not guests but family members who live away) and debate our options. We could go to town and join the throngs waiting at the grocery store checkout; or we could go to the North Shore and take a long walk along some lovely white beach; or we could stay home and hang out. There will be more green beans to pick, and the blueberries are ripe at the U-Pick down the road. Whatever happens I will clasp this hot summer day to my breast, for it will never return again.