As 4th of July weekend dawned I found myself inordinately free, alone and full of time. I had taken the Friday after the 4th off, and created a lovely long weekend for myself yet every plan for the time-off fell through. I can’t say I was disappointed though, for a relaxing weekend of doing whatever made my fancy was really quite appealing.
Malli was flying to California on Friday morning so I was determined to spend the 4th with him. We were both home, getting chores done the morn of America’s 237th birthday. He packed, i crocheted. (While searching for a hat for his trip, we laughed about his “sexy farmer” look pictured here. We always know how to laugh together.)
We ended up at our Aunt’s 4th of July barbeque. Nothing fancy, but delicious food. We were early so I took my book up to the outdoor hammock; soothed by the occasional breeze moving the hot heavy air I delved into Pagford, the little town brought to life by J.K Rowling in her first book for adults Casual Vacancy.
It’s an interesting book. Unfortunately I borrowed it on “Express” from the library and was required to finish it in 3 days. Busy as I was it was not possible but I intend to buy it. The few chapters I was able to read had me intrigued, and the story just got curiouser and curiouser by the page. Not a hint of Harry Potter, which was pleasantly surprising. It was hard to imagine at first how J.K Rowling would be able to write a book so completely devoid of magic, and mystical beings. The first few pages I kept expecting a talking cat, or dragon to pop out from behind a tree. But as I read i forgot to expect the magic and was caught up in the mystery of the small town.
Editorial ReviewsFrom Publishers Weekly
On the face of it, Rowling’s first adult book is very different from the Harry Potter books that made her rich and famous. It’s resolutely unmagical: the closest thing to wizardry is the ability to hack into the amateurish Pagford Parish Council Web site. Instead of a battle for worldwide domination, there’s a fight over a suddenly empty seat on that Council, the vacancy of the title.
As more of the family joined, I put away my book. Making fun of my Grandmother styling a “maxi-dress” and my evidently racist-homophobic aunt for her backward ways kept me entertained for the rest of the evening.
I love the summer, and the lengthy days. I love the daylight that brightens the day as early as 5am, and only begins to fade at 8pm. The afternoon heat was too much, and the adults were inside, but appreciating the heat and the sweat that glistened on my skin I stayed in the shade breathing in the hot heavy air made me feel saturated. It’s a feeling of wholesome wholeness.
As the sun set close to 9pm I dropped my grandmother home and drove to the Lake Quannapowitt in Wakefield and watched the half hour fireworks display. The collective oohs and aahs of the massive crowd gathered around the lake; the variety of languages and accents; the excited shrieks from little children, the obnoxiously loud rendering of the Star Spangled Banner by a group of teenagers; the smells of grilled meat; the reds whites and blues adorning most houses, most people; these are the things that make 4th of July.
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Friday morning 530am as I drove my brother and cousin to the airport, I marveled at how our brain can get tricked by the light. Being awake this early during the winter months is a virtual impossibility. Lethargy and sleepiness galore. But the bright day light streaming through my window had me feeling alert and ready to take on the day. Upon returning home I couldn’t (despite the ungodly hour for a holiday morning) get back into bed. So I crocheted and waited for 830am until the shops opened.
Furnishing myself with a beach umbrella and a fresh fruit box i head to Gloucester. I had never been to Gloucester before, and didn’t know where the beach was. Relying on Google, I typed in a generic Gloucester address and once there drove along the meandering Washington street. Between houses and hillocks i caught glimpses of the sea but no sight of a beach until suddenly on my left there was a tiny cove and an empty beach.
I pulled in to a parking space on the side of the road and decided; this is it.
Plum Cove Beach. A tiny tiny cove off the Gloucester bay. I quickly picked a little patch of sand that would be mine and settled in. I was anxious to get in the water so after lathering up some SPF 70 sun block I head into the water. It was a cool 65F or so, with a warm layer of sun heated water on the top. I began a cycle of swimming and laying under the umbrella being dried and warmed by the 95 degree weather. A “scorcher” as one of the locals muttered getting settled with a book. More people joined, but it never got too crowded. I imagine the crowd never got too big because although it was a long weekend, Friday was a working day and most people would have been working. I would visit again on a weekend to see if it still has that “my little beach” feel or if it gets too crowded to enjoy.
After 4 hours of land and sea; Reading, napping and eating. I was ready to go home.
Sunday I decided was going to be another Beach day. Saturday had passed by in a blur of household chores, cleaning and cooking and I was determined to replicate the beach bum relaxation of Friday, as well as prolong (may be even enhance) the smell of the ocean I apparently brought home with me.
In the spirit of exploration I decided to try a new beach. Sunday afternoon I drove to Salisbury State Reservation. What a different beach experience!
Here I found what I would call the typical beach. Throngs of people for miles and miles in either direction filled the seashore. Again I found a little patch of sand with an at least partial view of the ocean. Unlike Plum Cover beach, here in Salisbury the water was not insulated by a bay. The lack open sea stared back at me and my first steps into the water resulted in my entire body going numb. The sun was still hot though, and after a few painful minutes of getting my body acclimated to the 50 degree water, numbness or comfort settled in and I stayed in the water for 20 minutes.
There is something about the smell of the ocean mixed with the coppertone water baby sunblock that relaxes me. By around 430 the tide began to go out. The beach began to unfold before my eyes. It seemed each wave that crashed against the shore would pull back further exposing more and more sand. i went in the water and watching my beach umbrella as a beacon noted how far back the water was going. I wondered if there was a limit to how far back one could go without getting caught in the rip tide, or the currents from the Merrimack joining the ocean. I wonder if the frigid temperatures of the water was a result of the cold water from the river. The wind began to cool and just as the tide went out, so did the tides of people. I woke up from a short nap; the cool breeze, scented with rain warned me of an on coming shower. If that wasn’t warning enough the seagulls had gotten awfully courageous as the crowds thinned and were getting too close for comfort. (I’m afraid of birds. Sad fact.)
Just as I pulled out of the park, the first drops of rain hit my windshield. It was a beautiful weekend on the beach. Weather permitting I’m determined to explore more of the New England coastline; On a quest to find my favourite beach.