August 23, 2017 (Wednesday)

by Yule Heibel on August 22, 2018

Another completely leafed-in, murky day. The climate here really is barbarous. It’s mind-boggling to think that in five or six months we’ll be eyeball deep in winter, shoveling out from blizzards. Yesterday was one of those awful, ennui-ridden, paralyzing days: it was too hot to go for a walk, so I stayed home and read as well as played way too much Churchill Solitaire – which I kept losing, and which therefore failed to lift my general sense of frustration.

Late in the afternoon, having decided hours earlier that it would kill me to walk the mile there and the mile back in the torpid heat, I decided to drive to the Post Office to mail a birthday card to B.B. Of course when I got there at 5:17p.m., it was closed. I decided to drive down R.-Street and then double back along L.-Street (along the ocean). As I was nearing I.-Park, an old song (Pet Shop Boys, West End Girls) came on the radio. I really love that song, so I felt I wanted to keep listening. Had it not been on, I would have parked at I.-Park, for suddenly the weather had shifted and an amazingly refreshing, rich breeze blew off the ocean. It was low tide, too, which I didn’t see at first. I could only feel the cooler breezes and smell the newly fresh, gorgeous air.

I passed D.-Street Beach (the song was still playing). When I crossed the intersection, I turned left and back around. Parked the car and walked back to the beach, which is when I noticed how low the tide was. Perfect beach day. By now it’s almost 5:30p.m. and I have my domestic duties, upcoming, in mind: dinner prep, picking W. up at the station, etc. But I sat on a bench, partially shaded, and observed the scene.

Two youngish women with two very young children – an older boy and a very young toddler girl – were packing up their beach gear. The children left the two women and advanced on the cement stairs that lead from the beach to the grass and the cinder-block building that houses the toilets and serves as storage for the lifeguards. I was sitting near this building. It also has an outdoor shower on its south wall, and another family was using it to rinse off. The little toddler girl was most adventurous. I appreciated that the women (I suspected only one of them was the mom, the other a friend or a relative) let the kids amble off like that, maybe seventy or more feet away. First, they “conquered” the stairs. (Other more anxious parents might have forbidden the stair-climbing in the first place – a perfect locale for accidents.) The little boy did display some anxiety about the increasing separation from his mother; the little girl however seemed nonplussed.

She had suddenly noticed that the family rinsing off at the shower had a little boy, older than the little boy who was probably her brother, and they were rinsing him off entirely in the buff. She couldn’t take her eyes off him, just ignored everything else. If her mother was packing up maybe seventy feet away, the shower was only about thirty feet away. She stared. Her brother had left her, gone back towards the women, probably to complain about her insouciant detachment from his concerns. She was intent on observing this other boy (perhaps she wanted to compare – surely she routinely saw her older brother naked, but maybe he was the only child she saw thus?); she wanted to learn as much as she could from observing him. It was really fascinating to watch.

Finally, that family was finishing, and the naked boy was enrobed in a towel. Now the little girl and her brother went to rinse the salt and sand off their bodies.

They kept their clothes on.

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