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Late-summer sensations experienced on beach time

Posted on September 15, 2021

OpinionColumns

Sanda Baucom Hight

Sanda Baucom Hight

We call it beach time when there is no rush and no pressure to stick to a schedule. At our long weekend at the coast recently, there was, however, the expectation of sensations and experiences that would get us through until the next time. 

When we arrived on Sept. 9, the first delight was the view of the Atlantic as we crossed the  new Surf City Bridge, a masterpiece of engineering and construction. An impressive vista of the ocean slowly came into view and reached its peak as we were on the highest point of the bridge.

As guests of our son and his family at a rented, three-story house, my husband Fred and I entered beach time as we arrived at the third floor, which was the living space and dining area and the best place for a view. It was a no-TV weekend, and we avoided our other devices all we could. Alexa was there, but we did not invite her to enter our conversations.

The third-floor porch, the place to be, provided a view of the sound and the Intracoastal Waterway, with large and small boats headed north or south at what appeared to be a leisurely pace, probably their own version of beach time.

From the porch, I could see American flags flying at most of the homes in the strip, a reminder that Saturday would be Sept. 11. Old Glory was evermore beautiful as it fluttered and flapped in the classic summer breeze.

Looking down at the sound, I could see a small barge powered by a motor. The barge had at one end a tall apparatus for drilling holes for pilings, and it was on its way to a nearby work site. The driver was preoccupied, but the two other young men were standing on the barge, talking and laughing and happy to be at work. The scene was reminiscent of the young, robust people celebrating work in Whitman’s poem, “I Hear America Singing.”

Another sight from the porch involved Fred on the deck below as he hooked a 20-inch flounder and called for someone to bring him a net. My daughter-in-law scampered down three flights of steps and got the net to Fred just in time. (At the time it was still flounder season, and the catch was legal.) Look for more about the catch later.

On Friday, Sept.10, some of us slept in, while others got up early to fish on the surf. Later that day, time spent in the hammock on the second-floor porch provided sights and sounds to note: that lapping, lapping sound of water against the pilings, a private view of the flag with stars and stripes fluttering smack between my eyes and the white-on-blue sky, a helicopter from Camp Lejeune on patrol on the historic weekend.

By suppertime, we were welcoming three more family members to the house.

During a few minutes of down time during the supper preparations, I stepped out on the third-floor porch at the front of the house and saw the most spectacular sight of the weekend. The Surf City Bridge appeared as an arch of lights, seemingly suspended in space over the Intracoastal Waterway.

Cars, silent in the distance, crept along the bridge, some moving toward the ocean and others leaving the island. A light show, that’s what it was. And as if all that were not enough, I spotted our celestial sister, the crescent moon, and our other sister, Venus, in the otherwise dark sky. A light show of this caliber is unmatched for beauty.

By now, the flounder had been caught, filleted, stuffed with crabmeat and baked, and viola! Supper was ready. Seven of us broke bread (and fish) together, while conversations of three generations bounced around the table like a ping-pong ball. We all won the conversation game.

On Saturday morning, Sept. 11, we had to pack and leave the house in order by 10 o’clock. We set out to visit our daughter and her family at Hampstead, a few miles down the road.  Thoughts of the events of 20 years ago occupied us as we made the trip.

Our purpose of this part of our trip was to give one of our grandsons a sending-off celebration for when he leaves for the Air Force in a few days. The celebration was bittersweet. There were speeches, food, words of advice, tears, laughter, jokes, a little bragging and a moment of silence in remembrance of the Sept. 11 of 20 years ago. It was a special time with a wide range of emotions.

The late-summer weekend was loaded with sensations, emotions, acts of kindness and expressions of love to last a while, and it was all on beach time.

Sanda Baucom Hight is retired from Wilson County Schools after serving as an English teacher and is currently serving as a substitute teacher in Wilson County .     

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