Thursday, January 7, 2010

Beach Day

A "beach day" on the east coast, according to one of my brothers-in-law, is a hot, sunny, day, with possibly a few high fluffy clouds in the sky, and no forecast for "late afternoon thunderstorms", which is a fairly regular occurence on the humidity-laden east coast during summer months. These east coast "beach days" appear to be highly valued by many easterners, judging by the number of human forms lying on their bellies on their multicolored beach towels, on the warm sand, inches from each other, like sea lions congregating on rocky outcrops during mating season.

But I am a transplanted easterner, having now lived in California for more years than I have lived on the east coast. A "beach day" in California is pretty much any day when its not pouring rain. Its rarely "hot" at the beaches in northern California, and the salt ocean water is always cold, even in the summertime, so that only the very brave, or those whose bodies have developed reptilian thermostats, or children, who always seem to be impervious to cold water, play in the waves for more than five minutes sans wetsuit. The few "swimmers" in the Pacific ocean are certainly part polar bear.

Today, it was a sunny and windless 44 degrees Farenheit by mid-afternoon, BALMY for a January day in Connecticut. So, I did what any true Californian might do; I went to the beach. Sherwood Island State Park, to be exact. And, I am happy to report, I was not the only one on the beach. There were half a dozen cars in the parking lot - dog walkers, lovers holding hands out for a mid-day hike, retired couples strolling under the bright winter sun.

I laced up my hiking boots and headed across a patchwork of partially snow-covered sand towards the deep blue crease of Long Island Sound. The waves gently lapped at the shoreline, more like a lake than the ocean. It was probably mid-tide, and the expanse of sand which the waves had covered at high tide was now clear of snow, with long ribbons of shells piled up along the still wet hard sand. I have not seen so many shells on an east coast beach since I was a kid. Maybe more shelled sea animals die off in the winter months than in the summertime. In any case, I had a glorious afternoon walking along the shoreline, with the bright mid-afternoon sun glinting off the water, so bright in fact, that I should have packed sun glasses and a baseball cap instead of my ski hat, as most of the other east coast beach goers had wisely done.

I suppose its all a matter of perspective, whether or not any particular day is a "beach day" or not. My other brother-in-law recently remarked to me that "you don't have to like the weather on the east coast, you just have to get used to it". I think he's right.


  1. I was in California in the early 90's, near Malibu. I was amazed how chilly the air was and how cold the water was. It was Summer and the temp in Thousand Oaks was a hundred degrees, but the beach was cold to me!

  2. Otin - sounds about right for California!