I adore swimming in the ocean but I’m not fond of the beaches I must traverse to do so. I don’t like walking over the sand. And when I finish swimming, I don’t like the feeling of wet sand on my toes and legs. So maybe that’s why during a family vacation I hurried along the rocks and pebbles on Sunset Beach, New Jersey, to return to the family van. Thank God that Lucky, our then nine-year-old son, stopped me because he wanted to beach comb.
Something about this weekend’s crystalline sky evoked a memory of the vacation we took this time last year to Cape May County, New Jersey. As a child I spent my beach time in the northern reaches of that county in Stone Harbor and Avalon. With my own family last year we explored Cape May at the county’s southern end. We pretty much stumbled onto Sunset Beach after climbing to the top of both the Cape May Lighthouse and Fire Tower No. 23, a World War II lookout tower that once was part of the harbor defense of the Delaware Bay. We went to the beach to visit the submerged remains of S.S. Atlantus, the most famous of twelve concrete boats the United States built during World War I. It sits submerged in the Delaware Bay off Sunset Beach. “It did not prove practical,” the historic sign on the beach says of the concrete ship.
That gift of time suspended in time under a crystalline sky with my son makes me think of these opening lines from William Blake’s poem “Auguries of Innocence”