There is not a single person who knows me who doesn't know of my love for the beach.
When I was growing up I don't think there were many warm spring or summer days that my mom didn't pack me to up to go to the beach.
Cambridge isn't on the ocean, we had to drive two hours for that treat, but it is on the beautiful Choptank River which is a major tributary of the Chesapeake Bay and is 71 gorgeous miles long.
As a teenager I started spending my summer days at the Cambridge pool rather than the beaches. I remember those days vividly and fondly.
I also started finding my way to the ocean more often and would settle in for weeks at a time to play in Ocean City. Always nice to have friends and/or family living there. There was always a place to stay. The philosophy, as I recall was, the more the merrier.
LordAMercy, I do still love Ocean City.
Finding my way back to the water after leaving the Eastern Shore became a need that was always going to find a way to be met.
And now that I'm retired I'm finding ways to meet it more often.
Those carefee days of worshiping the sun while slathered in a universal concoction of baby oil and iodine to help get the darkest tan possible eventually reached days of payback.
I stopped loving falling asleep on the beach in the sun, but never stopped looking out over the water.
I just moved myself from directly under the sun to a deck close by.
And now, rather than baby oil and iodine I'm slathered in sunscreen. And there's more often than not, a hat plopped onto my head.
And I'm happy to do it.
There's still a price to be paid for those early days when we were encouraged to go outside and play 'cause the sun was our friend.
There's a great piece that is attributed to Kurt Vonnegut, which has since been declared as not written or presented by him. Whatever. It's a great piece. You can read it here: http://scripting.com/specials/commencement.html
"Ladies and gentlemen of the class of '97:
If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it. The long-term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists, whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience. I will dispense this advice now."
Had I read this earlier would I have heeded the advice?
Not speaking for all teens, but this gal gave serious things like melanoma and skin cancer not nary a thought.
I doubt I truly and deeply felt I was immortal, but hey - all that stuff was a long, long way away. Why worry about all that stuff now?
And yes, I am still devoted to the beach.
Looking out over a seemingly unending body of water soothes my soul. My heart. Calms my mind. Brings perspective.
There's nothing in my life that can come anywhere close to giving me what the beach gives me.
Good things, of course.
But some not so good.
Several years ago I started having some rough red patches break out on my face. Keratosis. Sun damage. Resulting in annual dermatologist visits for a close look to spot anything that might be showing on my skin that shouldn't.
I go in and I have the Keratosis places frozen more often that once a year. Most of them go away. But only for a time and then one morning one or more will have reappeared.
I have a prescription lotion to use on them, but there are a couple of stubborn spots it doesn't seem to even faze.
My latest annual visit to the dermatologist was a little scarier than the previous ones because I was watching the doctor's face as she said, "I don't really like the looks of this."
And it took a week to hear results from a biopsy.
The results were good, really - "abnormal. pre-cancer. clean margins."
But the abnormal part means I get examined more often now than the once a year I have been doing.
Apparently, or so I'm told, once there's been a abnormality found, they become more prevalent.
All this is nothing more than me rambling and rattling on with relief, I guess at hearing "pre-cancer," rather than "cancer."
And maybe will remind some of you, if you're not already doing so, to make an appointment with a dermatologist.
My next trip to the beach? Next month. And I'm hoping for snow. (But I'll still pack my sunscreen).