Sunday, August 15, 2010

Nothing in Common

We are vacationing in Orleans, Cape Cod--spending some quality time with family at Nauset Beach. Our trips to the beach must be planned (according to the kids) according to the tide chart. Years of practice have made this a near perfect science for us. In the five days we have been here, I have already learned some new lessons to be filed away for future reference.

As an avid user of sunscreen, hence my ivory (versus bronze) glow, I thought I had mastered this task. However, I had more to discover. First of all, it is important, when wearing a swim skirt and applying sunscreen, to consider the height that skirt will rise to if one sits in a chair. I got some fabulous high-thigh burn on day one. I had protected myself to right above the knee. I also realized that on windy days, one should take into account that using a barrette to keep hair out of one's face also keeps it off of her uppermost forehead. As a result, the sunscreen applied in typical fashion to my face, left about a half inch line of burn at my hairline. (Luckily these two areas are well hidden in everyday life.) Believe it or not, I was still considered qualified to apply spray sunscreen to my brother's back when he decided to grab a quick snooze at the beach. I really thought I was doing an adequate job...really, I did. It wasn't until later in the afternoon that we noticed the white scallop pattern down one side of his back, where I had artfully sprayed...then there was a pink middle section, and a more even whiteness on the other side. he did not appear to be in any discomfort, so I saw no need to alert him to the situation.

I am pleased to report that, according to me, it is easier to "sight-see" at the beach through the zoom lens of a camera than binoculars. I was expressing my fascination with the hairline of a man frolicking out in the waves, when it was suggested that "it" was a tattoo. Hmmmm, interesting choice of style...true t-shirt borders--including short sleeves. There didn't seem to be a way for us to get to the bottom of things, short of me freezing my feet off in the ocean. Then I realized, with the kids nearby, I could snap some unsuspecting photos (binoculars would've seemed out of place, as there was nothing fascinating going on that far off shore...except this guy). We were still uncertain, until I magnified the photo...then I was just in awe of what he'd grown.

I also found myself googling "beach etiquette" yesterday to find out "Is it just me?" or were other people concerned with issues beyond seeing more skin than necessary. The general rule is that common courtesy rules apply. This is always a sticky situation as it assumes all of those involved also have common sense.

When we arrived at the beach early yesterday, we found a crater that had been dug out (and clearly washed away a bit by high tide at other words, not freshly done), so we dropped our things an appropriate distance from the two lawn chairs to the left and the couple of scattered towels behind. After we got all of our stuff spread out, a gentleman from the chairs came over, into the crater of our goods, kicked at a shovel in the sand, and walked away...OK, whatever. Then, he just sort of paced a bit. The six of us in our group headed down to the water, about 50 feet away. Chair-man was then joined by a small child, who started digging right next to the crater. Their subtleties led me to believe that we had inadvertently taken part of their spot (CLEARLY claimed by a stray shovel). I knew I was not going to be able to comfortably return to our blankets and chairs knowing I had spoiled anyone's fun, so my husband (with the reigning title of Ocean Treasure Collector...seriously he does it like it's his job) and I moved all of our stuff downhill, a little to the right, a little closer to the water. I told the boy we were sorry if we accidentally planted our stuff in his digging spot, and we'd move it out. The Chair-woman then rose to say "Sorry, we aren't usually so spread out, but we have nine more people coming." Well, they shouldn't have been left in charge of staking out real estate if they were just going to pout and not say anything BEFORE we put our stuff down. Two chairs and two blankets are not ample items to "reserve" beach space for thirteen people. This was not a movie theater--it's a beach!!! The Chair-man paced around for the next three hours like he was hosting guests in his yard. I am pretty sure it was a different family who smushed their five chairs right in front of the crater.

A couple of hours later, we had returned to our blanket and chairs to hydrate and enjoy the view of the ocean. With the rising tide, we were now about twenty feet from the water's edge, when a group of fifteen people decided to congregate about fifteen feet in front of a side-by-side line. It was so weird! They didn't even have their feet in the water. Their positioning was not only completely inconsiderate of us, but to anyone else who wanted to walk along the shore. "Down in front!" After awhile, there were just three obstacles left, and they did sit down. As a rogue wave came in, and got them wet, they did notice us when they went to move their chairs back, and sought higher ground. Thank you Mother Nature!

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