Beach Walkers

Charlie at the beach on a beautiful Saturday (10 April 10) It's looking like 2010 is going to go down as the year in which the beach became not a vacation for us, but a habit. Indeed, a weekly habit: Saturday we went to the beach where we've vacationed almost every year since Jim and I met in 1994. We've been going to the beach almost every weekend since this past January; during Charlie's recent Spring Break, we went a couple of times. We used to never go in the "off season" as Charlie had such a tremendously difficult time transitioning to and from the beach. But he seems to be handling this much, much better.

The other reason we never visited the beach in the fall, winter and spring was that Charlie could not be dissuaded from jumping into water that was of a more polar bear sort of temperature. Even though he did put on his swimsuit Saturday morning, and though he did pack his boogie board in the trunk of the white car, he didn't make any effort to get into the waves. And, while he asked Jim and me to bring the boogie board to the beach, and while we responded "nah," he didn't get upset at all; a couple of weeks ago, he was not very happy when he had the board on the sand a few weeks ago and couldn't go in. I wondered yet again if there's something going on whereby Charlie asks, asks and asks for something that he's really wanted in the past but he's really testing us and doesn't (necessarily) want whatever he's asking for. Indeed, he'd kind of rather not have whatever he's asking for, but can't stop himself from asking.

It was just around 60 degrees fahrenheit Saturday, nowhere near as warm as it was last Easter weekend (and certainly not as warm as it was earlier this week). Charlie got into the car "avec winters" and then took off his fleece jacket and gloves in the car and threw them in the trunk. It was breezy down at the beach but he said "no" to wearing the jacket, and a very firm "no" when I said I'd carry it in my bag.

Charlie in short sleeves on a cool April day at the beach

Our walk on the beach had been cut short last weekend when Charlie spotted a small dog running on the sand without a leash. Just as we were walking onto the sand we spotted a woman with a brown Scotch terrier walking in the same direction. Charlie hung back and then walked on, most cautiously. By the time we were on the sand the woman and the terrier were already turning around.

So we had the beach all to ourselves.

Charlie and Jim walking on the beach at low tide

It was low tide and we were able to walk much farther out than we ever had.

Charlie and Jim walking on the beach (we had it all to ourselves!) 

Walking on the beach during low tide

End of the line (I mean beach)

We went as far as there was sand and then Charlie led the way back, over flora and fauna.

Charlie walking back through some beach flora and fauna 

And over the foliage.

Charlie making his way back on the beach

I spied a little turtle.

A little turtle on the beach

We were warmed by the sun, so that Charlie's t-shirt and swimsuit didn't seem a bad idea at all.

Charlie enjoying the warm sun at the beach on 10 april 10

We got takeout at a diner and drove to another beach.

Charlie ran back and forth with a pleased smile. 

Charlie exulting on the beach (before two dogs appeared)

And then we heard "up, Dad!" and Charlie was running to Jim on seeing two medium-sized dogs running onto the beach. Jim obliged by piggy-backing him, Charlie watching the dogs with wide, wary eyes. Once he got down he ran to the parking lot and ran the length of it, noisily. I ran after him; Charlie ran back to the car. I was thinking he'd run into it for security but then he turned and did another fast trot in the lot before getting into the car and buckling up.

Jim and I exchanged looks to remind each other of Charlie feeling the lag about such an abrupt end to his day at the beach. 

Charlie was cheerful all the way home, singing and humming from time to time. (I also really think it had good for Charlie to do those two fast runs in the parking lot, as if he knew he needed to run out his fears and being upset) We went for a walk; we used the computer; Charlie wanted another bike ride as the sun was setting. We went for a short ride around our town to check things out and then Charlie asked for another walk. And then, after attempting to go to bed, another walk under the stars.

Besides being the year of becoming regulars at the beach, 2010 looks like it's also going to go down as the year of walking with Charlie.

6 Responses to “Beach Walkers”
  1. feebee says:

    Jim’s back ok?

  2. emma says:

    Sounds like a lovely day, the beach looks great!!
    It’s good steady progress, the transitioning to and from the beach and no longer always wanting to jump in the sea, these things seem to sneak up on you over time, and all of a sudden you realise the change (at least I do:)).
    Wariness of dogs, I can kind of understand that, it may be hard to decipher a friendly bark from an aggressive one, dogs seem unpredictable. Dimitri too is fascinated/fearful of dogs although his reaction is different.

  3. Louise says:

    How long can Jim do “up”s? We had to give it up when Jake was about nine. Charlie is almost bigger than Jim is!
    In the past, you’ve reported that Chalie gets over-attached to certain behaviors. The pleasant experience can turn into an obsession. Is there a chance that this may be happening with his walks? He is demanding them with increasing frequency.
    Also, is there any physical activity that Charlie can do whenever he wants to, all by himself? This would give him some control over his own internal state, without having to rely on the presence of other people. (You have made it clear that you love walking with him. You’ll go with him as often as he asks. But it can also be very calming for him to sense that he can control his own demand for physical activity.)

  4. Barbara says:

    As emma said, there is a lot more to deciding about a dog than most people assume. All dogs are not alike.
    I, too, commend Jim for staying sturdy enough to carry Charlie. Must be impossible to know when Charlie will leave a particular behavior behind.

  5. I love your walks. And envy all that activity! So wish we had a nearby beach.

  6. MARY CARR says:

    I think you are correct about Charlie asking and asking for something more out of habit than desire. At times our daughter will ask repeatedly for something. She seems to be trying to annoy us into refusing her. We found that the anxiety of anticipation is so great, she would rather not do it at all,than wait for it to happen.

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