Monday, August 4, 2008

Gratitude Comes in Many Flavors by Barbara Quinn

Overhead the gulls are cawing, and in the distance the waves crash. It’s the height of summer at the shore. When the ocean is stirred up from impending or departing storms, the roar of the waves has a different quality. It’s more of a constant rumble that never dies, and the air has a strong salty smell. On calmer days, there’s a lull between the rhythmic crashes. The ocean is lovely any time of day or night, and people flock to the shore, sitting and staring, and listening to the mesmerizing song of the sea. It really does heal many ills. But it’s more than the sound washing over you that is good for you. The taste of the salt of the ocean is comforting: it’s the amniotic fluid of life itself lingering on the back of your throat.

This town where I live on the shore, Bradley Beach, isn’t a carnival town. There’s an occasional booth selling food, and yesterday I saw a hot dog cart called “Dogs Unleashed.” Beyond a couple of food places, there’s a playground full of kids climbing, running, and shouting, and also The Bradley Beach Club, which is a simple miniature golf course on the boardwalk. The town wisely keeps the attractions to a minimum, and keeps the focus on the ocean.

Late in the afternoon when the sun begins to descend and a little bit of melancholy washes over me, the sand begins to feel scratchy on my skin, and tiredness sets in. At that sad end of a lovely day, one more wonderful summer sound permeates the air: the sound of the ice cream truck. A big white truck slowly rides down the block playing “Turkey in the Straw” and another plays “Oh, Suzanna.” The music is old-fashioned, calliope-like. The kids rush to the street and line up to buy their treats. Their smiles speak of ageless joys. They taste and make their way back home. Everything’s all right.


Angie Ledbetter said...

Ah, the best of both worlds. So glad the powers that be have kept the small town feel, yet have opportunities for small biz folks without turning it into a touristy trap.

Kathryn Magendie said...

Oh! the ice cream truck! the Ocean! the beautiful writing of this post -- so enjoyed this.

Anonymous said...

At least the ice cream man plays good music instead of the irritating one that is played here. Makes me want to find a small town and set up camp.

i am p. said...

salty ocean air as amniotic fluid of life...oooh, i like that.

what a picture -- ocean, sand, boardwalk, ice cream truck.

Barbara Quinn said...

Sorry that music is irritating in your area, Oren. You made me chuckle.

i m p ... glad you liked the "ocean" picture. It's one of my favorites and I never get tired of looking at it, or writing about it.

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