Testing the Waters
We went down to the ocean Saturday and had the beach almost entirely to ourselves, except for two surfers. Rain was predicted and, sure enough, as Charlie dozed in the back seat, it started to pour and this continued as we arrived at the beach.
We suggested to Charlie that we'd first get something to drink and went to a WaWa (convenience store). We usually stop at this WaWa after we swim, so going there first was out of the usual routine. Charlie looked a little puzzled as we pulled into the parking lot but didn't object to going in, getting a soda and some crackers. Once back in the car, he made it clear that he wanted to go to the 'ocean' without further ado.
The rain was indeed letting up when we went down to the ocean. As usual, Charlie took off his shirt and shoes and socks (he's not a flip-flop kind of guy) before walking up the path to the beach, and asked to have the boogie board strap velcro'd round his left wrist. Then he was skimming over the wet sand and into the waves. He lay down on his board and kicked his way out, fast, floating in and asked to have the strap taken off (he can put the strap on partially himself but it's often been a bit of a challenge for Charlie to coordinate delicate movements with his long, slender fingers). Then it was back into the water for a swim.
As not so usual, Charlie came out after a few minutes and asked to have his boogie board strapped to his wrist. He again hurried into the waves and went out a bit farther, then ran back onto the sand and (again) had Jim take the strap off, after which it was back in for a swim.
All this time, there was a light sprinkling of rain. Four men, one with a white baseball cap, came down to the beach and stood beside the stone jetty, talking. Charlie reemerged from the water and—again!—asked for the boogie board to be strapped to his wrist. They say third time's the charm and, this third round, he remained in the water, indeed making his way out quite far to where the waves were clearly rising up in a higher line. He was still standing—it was low tide—and he stayed out there (just short of where the surfers were) for quite awhile.
Quite awhile. Charlie, Jim and I (I rather think anyone) could tell was perfectly happy out there, surrounded by waves that were just rough enough to meet his standards, but not crazy-knock-swimmers-about types. Seems to me that, with his first ins-and-outs among the waves, Charlie was testing the waters and came to the conclusion that they were just right for boogie-boarding.
Plus, aside from the surfers, Charlie had the ocean to himself: A real contrast from last weekend which was, first of all, a long weekend (due to the July 4th holiday) and also just the kind of weather (high 90s and sunny) that one wants at the beach.
What I love about Charlie and the ocean is how he doesn't need those 'ideal beach conditions' to enjoy the it. He enjoys the beach whenever he's at the beach, shine or rain, summer or winter. This was made very apparent to Jim and me back in 2007 when it rained straight for five consecutive days (and was raining for at least part of four more) during a two week vacation in a rental beach house 'down the shore.' We still got in an ocean swim at least once a day. I mean, what what does it matter if you get rained on at the beach—we were going to go in the water anyways!
Saturday Charlie was ready to get out of the ocean after that longer swim. We got sandwiches (for Jim and me) and sushi (for Charlie). The rain picked up and was coming down steadily as we headed back up the Garden State Parkway.
But it had stopped for good by the time we got home, in time for Charlie and Jim to go for their second bike ride of the day (there'd been one in the morning pre-beach), just as the sun was setting. Too, we took a ride out to the rural-ish town where Jim and Charlie had biked on a trail last Monday. Saturday was the last night of firemen's carnival. We'd gone on Tuesday and felt a bit of a triumph then, as we'd last gone to this carnival when Charlie was about two feet shorter. Inbetween then and now he'd been insistent on not going on rides: Charlie had such a painful time leaving carnivals and amusement parks that perhaps he concluded it'd be better just to forget about them, period. He seems to be able to transition, and to handle his fascinations with rides, much better now and when he'd started talking about the ferris wheel Saturday evening, we were glad to go.
It being dark (and, too, in the greener acres of New Jersey), we ended up on some roads that looked kind of familiar, but turned out not to be. Jim stopped to ask two people sitting on their front porch for directions and then we were there and Charlie was running up the hill to the ferris wheel. It was so, so much cooler than it had been when on Tuesday; Charlie stayed smiling as he and Jim went up and around (though we thought they got short-changed on their ride—the wheel only seemed to go around about three times). Charlie hurried next to the giant slide and came down superfast, arms in the air. Last of all he did the merry-go-round, sitting atop a little milky white horse.
For us, Saturday was a perfect weather day.