Seven Quick Takes: In Which Benny Meets Her Match

 

And we’re home from camping!  Or, “camping.” Whatever, you tent-loving masochists. It was rustic enough for me. Nobody fell in the fire, nobody got permanently lost, nobody drowned, nobody got carried off by wildlife, we didn’t need to test whether our insurance covered out-of-state ER visits, and nobody even pulled anybody’s hair until we were – get this – two minutes away from reaching home. We managed to stretch a three-hour road trip into five hours, but we made it.

And guess what? I didn’t take a single photo! My husband took a few, but I haven’t seen them yet. There was just too much water and sand and dirt and moving around to mess with cameras much.

Here’s my seven wordy takes on our trip:

 

–1–

The happiest memories of my childhood are memories of the ocean, so I was absolutely ravenous for my kids to have the same experience. And they did! Miles and miles of sparkling blue ocean with waves big enough to toss you around; a buffeting breeze, thieving seagulls that made off with a whole bag of chips, the tugging of the sand away from your feet as the waves withdraw. They played and played and played, and the ocean played back, until our skin was glowing, our mouths and scalps were full of sand, our legs were like jelly, our fingers were salty and puckered, and our ears were full of the sound of the wind and the water. We staggered home completely sated.

Then, on another day, we tried another beach, closer to our campsite. I told the kids it was the same ocean, but it really wasn’t. This was the beach that made you realize why Poseidon was called “Earthshaker.” It was stifling hot, but the air was full of steam, so you could see past a few waves, and then .  . . the abyss. There could have been anything out there, or nothing. The waves slammed on the beach with a cracking sound, and every wave threw pale, scrabbling crustaceans onto the sand. There were no shells to collect — they had all been pulverized into bits by the pounding sea. The water was purplish, and it hissed. We stayed for a few hours until we were defeated, and then went home to rinse off at the campground, where the fresh pond water felt as gentle and mild as a giant cup of lukewarm tea. Whew!

So, kids, that was the ocean! Now they know.

 

–2– 

At one point, at the nice beach, the PA system announced that a lost child was looking for his family, and I thought, “Huh, did they say ‘Eliza’ or ‘Elijah”? Oh, well.”

Then they announced that it was Elijah, and he was ten, and still unclaimed. And I thought, “Wow, I also have a son who is ten and who is named Elijah. What a coincidence! Well, it was a popular name that year.”  I felt sorry for the mom whose son was missing.

Then I wondered where my son was.  Yarr.

 

–3–

There is staring at a TV screen and thinking about nothing for an hour, and there is staring at a campfire and thinking about nothing for an hour.  Not the same kind of staring, and not the same kind of nothing.

 

 

–4–

If you are living with nine children in what is essentially Dirtville, and are taking sojourns into Sweat-and-Gritsville, with a sidetrip into World of Soot, with occasional sorties into the Land of Grime and Itch, you may find that you want to take a shower. You may discover that the state park charges you $1.25 for five minutes of hot water. PAY IT.

 

–5–

We visited the Mystic Aquarium, where a “family membership” price doesn’t mean “two adults and as many as two children, if you are so gauche as to have as many as two children.” They also let you go out for lunch and come back in without paying again. And they had great fish and whatnot to look at! We got to pet sharks, and one of their three Beluga whales did something no one else could manage over the course of the whole trip: it made Benny stop shrieking for a minute. This whale was drifting back and forth in front of the glass where the dear child was having tantrum #897,932, and it was clearly watching her very closely. She didn’t like the look in its eye, and whacked the glass. It stopped right in front of her, and it tried to eat her. Or at least it popped its toothy mouth open right in front of her face.

 

 

And lo, there was quiet! Good one, whale.

I’ve been to aquarium shows where the creatures are impeccably trained and the trainers are unflappable, and clearly in charge. This was not one of those shows, and it was utterly charming. The sea lions mostly did what they were told, but sometimes they acted like big dumb stubborn dogs who were confident that their trainers loved them anyway. Then there was one sea lion who just refused to participate at all, because it’s mating season, and he had better things to do. That’s what I liked about this aquarium in general: they had really neat stuff to show us, but they didn’t take themselves too seriously.

They also had something I’ve never seen before: three “mermaid purses” in special display cases, so you could see the developing embryo inside.  They were about an inch across, and you could see the tail waving back and forth like a metronome, and that little shark waited and waited, just biding its time and growing. If you looked closely, you could make out one skate’s beating heart.

 

–6–

We saw an ice cream parlor called “Gelato Fiasco.” We did not stop there.

 

–7–

I love sheets.

***

Happy Fourth of July to all my American friends! We’re rained out here, which means we get an extra day to unpack and desandify ourselves before our family cookout and explodyfest tomorrow. Don’t forget to check out the other Seven Quick Takes at Conversion Diary.

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