Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Wellfleet in September = Paradise 4 Kids

September is the best month to introduce small children to the ocean. This week, for instance, the blue-green Atlantic purrs like a kitten. Gentle waves splash onto the shore. Puffy white clouds billow on the horizon. On such a day, children can feel safe at the beach. They can get their feet wet without the fear of being overwhelmed by undertow. Their enthusiasm will remain intact once they return home. And, the beach offers so many sensory experiences. There's the prickly sensation of salt water on skin, the sand sucking at toes, the repetitive motion of the waves as they roll towards shore. Sand is such a marvelous play medium. The beach is, in fact, like a giant sandbox.

Yesterday two kids, had built an impressive array of sand castles at LeCount Hollow Beach. Parents hovered nearby. As decoration, the four-year-olds had used what they found. I especially liked the spindly sponge that had been erected as a drawbridge, in vertical position. There had been numerous crab carcasses available, as well as small dead sharks and seagull feathers.

When I saw the perfect round towers, I wondered how much help the children had received from their eager entourage. The beach has been known to bring out the inner child in all of us. How can anyone resist?

In September, the seals are out, too, popping up, here and there, as if to say, “Hello. Come on in! The water’s fine.”

We saw a Lithuanian family, mesmerized by several seals. There was also a group of adults standing totally still. Camera in hand, or peering through binoculars from a distance, the tourists could not get enough of our local wildlife.

The seals are obviously social creatures, as curious about us as we are of them. They demand attention in such a jovial way. A group of us stood on the shore watching the performance as one seal dove head-first into a wave, right past a buddy who was swimming belly-up, without a care in the world.

“Are the seals eating sharks?” a tourist asked Sven.

“No, it’s the other way round,” he said. “A great white was sighted in Truro.”

On our way back, a well-tanned man carrying several beach stones, patted Sven on the back and said, “This beats the office any day.”

So true!

Many of us still have beach memories from childhood. I hated the sand getting caught in my bathing suit. I also remember sitting under our blue beach umbrella here in Wellfleet, when my brother was a baby, and collecting shells. What do you remember?