Early this morning my husband and I took our camping chairs and a cup of coffee down to the beach. We let the waves lap against our toes and watched as the tide slowly receded in its endless cycle of highs and lows. We let the sunshine warm our bodies and felt the morning breeze cool our skin. We watched the plovers run along the water’s edge picking at the wet sand with their tiny beaks for bits of food, and then run away as an incoming wave chased them off. We watched the willets chase the plovers away and try to steal their food. We sat holding hands and sipping coffee, and waited patiently for the dolphins to pass us by on their morning journey up the coastline of the outer banks.
The first two years that we came to Hatteras Island, the dolphins swam up and down the coastline like clockwork, heading North at sunrise and back South at sunset. Over the years though, the timing has changed and become much more random. I think this is probably due to many hurricanes and the ever-changing shape of the shifting ocean floor and coastline. Yesterday they didn’t swim by until almost 10:30 in the morning, but when they did it was a larger group than usual with several different pods swimming by and lingering in front of our spot along the beach. Occasionally a single dolphin could be seen circling back to reunite with its family group, mate, or friends. As always, seeing the arched backs and dorsal fins of the three to four dolphins at a time as they popped out of water brought me that magical rush and then that sense of peace that all was right with the world. I had seen my dolphins once again, and for some reason, seeing them never gets old.
The beach was deserted. He and I were the only people out this morning, except for the odd surfcasters who dotted the visible coastline here and there. Today, half of the renters had to move out. That means that the beach would be pretty quiet for most of the day since they had to be out by 10:00 AM and the new renters would not be checking in until after 4:00 PM. Tomorrow, it would be our turn, leaving our house behind for another year.
I expect my husband to sit on the beach for most of the day, taking in as much as he can before the packing, cleaning, and last minute details of leaving begin later tonight. He loves this place. We all do, but he always becomes melancholy when it’s time to leave. I think that I have less of a hard time leaving because I grew up on the shore. I was spoiled with easy access to the beaches of Southeastern Connecticut literally just a mile or two from my childhood home. I was also lucky enough to spend one or two weeks each summer in Cape Cod with my father, step-mother, sisters, and brother.
Still, I sit on the beach with my husband for as long as I can, until I feel my skin beginning to burn, soaking in the special feeling of sunshine and wind against my skin, the smell of the sea air, the sound of the surf, reenergizing and refueling my spirit until we come back to our house next year.