The last day of summer has always been more bitter than sweet to me, but this year I was given a gift that made the transition much easier.
The stars aligned to bring my geographically dispersed children home at the same time for a short visit: the first time the five of us had been together in over a year. We savored the togetherness at our favorite destination, the beach.
I will remember this special time as the autumn leaves swirl and darkness comes early.
Dawn breaks with the first shaft of sunlight dancing on the water. It is still but for the gentle crash of the surf and the squawk of a seagull in flight. A few fishing boats dot the landscape, and the ocean, sparkling like a cascade of diamonds, goes on forever.
I scan the shoreline in both directions, and there is no one in sight. Of course it’s empty. It is early on a Saturday morning, and sensible people are relishing the extra sleep. Duncan and I, however, both early risers, are excited to explore the beach.
We will find treasures: a piece of driftwood, a glistening pearly shell, a sand crab burrowing in the wet sand. With practiced precision, a bevy of sandpipers skitters away from the tide, and then back again as the waves recede. Duncan observes a gathering of gulls up ahead and races to join them. The birds, alarmed, trot a few steps and then flap their wings to freedom. Duncan looks back at me and wags his tail.
Our walk concluded, we sit on the deck. I sip my coffee and read the morning paper. Duncan gazes at the ocean, happily anticipating our next beach adventure.