Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Pick up Sticks

Just the other day, Terry and I drove to Margaretsville for a winter beach walk. The air was crisp but the sky was so blue.
When we tried to walk past the wharf onto the beach it was like a game of Pickup Sticks. Geesh. The big storm right after Xmas really made a mess of the whole wharf area. The road is completely washed away that leads to the Art Shed, and the beach is littered with logs, sticks and branches churned up from the depths of the ocean and flung ashore.
We find ourselves driving here often. It's calming and re-centering for both of us. This place holds so many memories.... our kids exploring, tip toeing up and over rocks, collecting, comparing and culling rocks before they were allowed to bring "a few" home. Terry is as bad as the kids for wanting to keep rocks from the beach. All of our nieces have grown up visiting this rocky beach, and many of my friends and family drive here in the summer to cool off.
One of the secret pleasures, for me, about sitting quietly on the uneven, ever changing beach in Margaretsville, is it reminds me of home.
My home in Cape Breton was a stones throw (literally) from this exact type of beach.
(my Mom and Dad's place in Victoria Mines. You can see a young Mollie tied on a rope in front of the shed, or is that the barn. I was always confused on which was the barn, and which was the shed)
Our view from the deck, the telephone poles line Hwy 28. If you were sitting on the deck, you always got a honk and a wave from passersby (whether you knew them or not).
I am not sure about any of you, but when I hear the word "beach", I would always visualize soft sandy beaches, with rolling waves. I used to feel cheated that I didn't live near one of those. Our "beach" was rocks, seaweed and dead jellyfish.
Its amazing how prospectives are different. My very first "real beach" visit was a visit to Shelburne when the kids were young. The beach was spectacular, with white soft sand, gentle rolling waves and warm gusty winds.
We walked the beach for miles and combed the sands, looking for treasures. Sand dollars and broken crabs, seashells. After a couple of hours on the beach, we piled into the car with our little bucket of treasures. The conversation was quiet, and I asked the kids if that wasn't the most beautiful and fun beach they had even been on. Their answer was "No, it was boring". Grampa's beach has way more stuff to do on it. This was so surprising to me. We had such an ugly, cold "shore" beach.

On my next hike to Dad's beach, I watched the kids tiptoe over the seaweed, looking for little creatures, using broken pieces of driftwood to turn the kelp. They dug for little rocks, smashing big rocks, looking for fossils. Terry collected flat rocks into a big pile and began skipping them along the water. This usually got the kids into the game, and I would sit and watch them skip rocks for seemed like hours. I am not sure how much of it was "more things to do" or was it more a sense of belonging. Ownership. This was our beach... we knew every inch of it, every flat rock and every fossil stamped into it. Every year was a new beach.. some years there was little pebbles all over the beach, other years, the beach would be swept clean and all that remained was huge flat smooth rocks with fossils imprinted on them.
This pic...one of my favorite, is Ryan's Rock at sunset. Note the smooth rocks and seaweed. It was a good beach day. These last few pictures tell a story...a sad one for me. Michelle (2001) sits quietly near Ryan's Rock. This day was "good bye" to our beach. We moved Dad to live with us permanently, and the house was sold. It took me almost 5 years before I could look at these pictures and even now, I cry every time.
Little orange dot is Michelle, making her way to Ryan's Rock. (Jill, that is your ferry, off on the horizon!) The little tiny speck on Ryan's Rock is Michelle...

Where Michelle sits is "our" beach. Stephanie and Michelle grew up owning this little part that no one else played on. Not many people walked past Ryan's Rock. My two little girls played for hours on the shore, and had to climb down a 30 foot cliff to get there. When they were 5 and 7, Terry and I dug a path through rocks, grass and dirt to make a little trail down. My mom would pack them a lunch and off they would go. Weird when I think now, of the dangers they were near, and yet, fully trusted them not to go in the water. I never once felt that they were in danger.

5 comments:

Linda H said...

Ah Donna, you were so lucky to "own" a beach as a child. I am sooo envious! Fond memories for you,for sure...
Gail is walking on a very different beach today; I'm glad they are there safely, through those snowstorms....

Mick said...

I havent seen pictures of that beach in a very long time! xo

Jacklyn Craft said...

Those are beautiful pictures and memories Donna. I find myself drawn to our waterfront which doesn't compare in the least. But there's something calming about being near the water.

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