The lovely town I live in is celebrating a festival this week. I'm not a fan of crowded streets, sensory overload, and people, people, people everywhere. I took the kiddo for a drive downtown the other day mostly to get out of the house. It was crazy packed down there; just too much for me. I hadn't intended to get out of the car but when we drove by the beach and saw that no one was there we couldn't resist stopping.
I was dressed practically in PJs (lounging around the house clothes) and my kiddo was the messiest I've ever seen him out of the house with a few spots of food on his shirt (I've never let him leave the house in a dirty shirt before) and smudges on his face. We were a sight! It was rather cold out, especially by the water, and especially considering that it's July. But the wonderful cold spell is what was keeping all the tourists away. There were about 3 other small groups of people there; an older couple sitting in chairs watching the waves, a younger couple walking the shoreline cuddled together under a blanket, and a small family playing in the sand. Yep, that's just about no one for a beach that was recently voted by Travel and Leisure magazine as one of the "best secret beaches on earth." Secret, HA! It's always packed!!! Maybe I should just thank Travel and Leisure magazine for that.
We live quite close to this lovely "secret" beach (adjacent the 5th largest lake in the world). We walk down to the general vicinity often but don't necessarily "go to the beach" a lot. I think my little guy has gone to the beach about 5 times in his life. Our little excursion the other night despite the chill in the air was awesome. We walked the shoreline and did get our toes quite wet (despite my telling little Abe that the water was just too cold). We chased seagulls, which he's never done before. We collected seagull feathers and honestly I was in awe of how many different colored and patterned feathers you can collect from black and white birds. We spotted an odd amount of lady bugs and honey bees at the shoreline (I'm still pondering why that was). I was also stunned as to how much trash was lying around on the beach. We sang silly songs while we walked, jogged, and ran (I swear my life is turning into a musical. We sing silly songs all day long about everything imaginable). If nothing else I can proudly say "my kid thinks I'm hysterical." We took a long, exhausting, some tears involved bathroom pit stop and the little guy did not pee his pants. Honestly, between you and I, I should have just let him pee in the lake. Gah, how has this world become so civilized and so cold hearted all at the same time? Tell me, how? Oh, we also stomped sand castles and jumped in (and filled in) holes people had dug. Normally I would NEVER demolish a sand castle. In fact I've always been the person walking in a group who would strongly encourage others NOT to stomp a sand castle. But I've also never taken an evening stroll before on a cold beach with my 2 year old son. Stomping sand castles is really fun!
Towards the end of our adventure when we both smelled of the Lake, had sand blown gently between the little hairs on our heads so that our scalps were a bit like sandpaper, our feet were cold and pruney, I dare say our hands were filthy from collecting feathers and picking up itty bitty shells, we noticed something green buried in the sand. It was a small toy army man. My son doesn't have any green toy army men yet. I say "yet" because they do seem a staple in every young boy's toy collection. He was pretty impressed with the really insignificant find. We rescued him from the sand and seeing as there was no one else on the beach at the time (and I think the toy is worth less than a penny) I told him he could take the little man home with us. I'm still amazed at the things a two year can find joy in.
He's been playing with the army man since we rescued him. He even named him. In fact its the very first toy he's ever given a name to. He has toys with names but none he's specifically named himself. The little green beach army man is now affectionately called Baptdo. I don't know how long Baptdo will last (he's very small and very cheap) but I do know that he's brought joy to both me and my son. My son, because it's a cool new toy that we rescued from the enormous beach and he's enjoying playing with it. Me, because Baptdo represents the basics of beauty in simplicity and a great evening that the two of us had together. That night after we arrived home between his bath and him being tucked in for bed my son thanked me at least 6 times for a fun time at the beach. There are truly SOOOOO many wonderful things that money cannot buy!