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The Beach House

1 When I was in second grade, my parents and their best friends rented a cottage at the beach. The two families would spend spring vacation together in Lincoln City, Oregon. There were four kids, including myself. This was thrilling to me, as an only child. Built-in playmates! Amy, the oldest, was my age. Her brothers, Andy and Paul, were slightly younger. I couldnt wait! We got to the cottage on a Saturday. The Johnsons had arrived the night before. Amy ran out to meet me and show me around. Leaning slightly, the cottage was wind-worn and faded. The clapboard siding had not seen a paint brush in years. The place was great, it looked like you couldnt hurt anything if you tried. There was a big, open, kitchen and living room downstairs, and several bedrooms upstairs. Tough clean and neat, the place definitely had an air of casualness. The furniture was old and comfortable and nothing matched. There was a tire swing in the backyard, and the beach was across the street. The kids bedroom had two sets of bunk beds. Amy and I called dibs on the top bunks. That night we had a bonfire on the beach. We ate Kentucky Fried Chicken and watched the sun go down over the Pacific. I remember dozing by the fire, lulled by the lapping of the waves. Next thing I knew, I was waking up in my bunk to the smell bacon. After breakfast, we grabbed buckets and shovels and ran to the water. The day was foggy and cool, and the tide was way out. We were going clamming. With just a few tries, I got the hang of digging and flipping clams up onto the sand. I remember the smell of salt air and seaweed on the spray, and the cries of the gulls, swooping overhead. It was a magical morning, mysterious and still. We pretended the clams were treasure, and that a pirate might appear from the mist at any time. We chased seagulls and played tag, and eventually brought the filled bucket of clams back to the house. There would be fritters or chowder for dinner that night. By midday, the fog always burned off and the sun came out. Amy and I would roll up our jeans and wade in the tide pools, playing with the sea anemones. The wet sand squished between my wiggling toes. I wanted to bring a starfish home, as a pet, but my father explained that it couldnt live without saltwater. Reluctantly, I put it back where I found it, to continue its starfish life. One afternoon the four of us built a huge sandcastle, surrounded by a fence made of oyster shells. As we finished, we saw the tide had crept up, unnoticed. We dug moats to protect the castle, but quickly got overwhelmed. The water surged around our feet as we frantically scooped sand. In no time, we were soaked to the skin. When Paul fell, face first, into the rising water, we realized it was no use. Starting to shiver, we ran back to the cabin. In the morning there was nothing left to mark the spot but a few oyster shells from the fence. There was no television at the cottage, and none of us missed it. We were seldom inside, anyway. There was always something to do. On our last day, it rained. After a morning of board games and puzzles, and watching it pour, our parents decided to reward our patience. We all piled into the station wagon and drove to town. Lincoln City was a small, quiet town, home to fishermen and loggers. It was still a decade or more away from being discovered as prime vacation real estate. It drew its share of tourists, though, and did its best to offer things to entertain them. At the Aquarium, we fed sardines to seals in the front lobby. Crossing through the turnstile into the main gallery was enchanting. Dimly lit, illuminated mostly by the glow from the tanks, the effect was of an undersea cave. Maritime objects decorated the spaces between displays. We saw fish of every size, shape and color. The center of the room was sunken, a wide pool, filled with creatures native to the northwest. An octopus drifted by, changing color as it went, blending in with its surroundings. Sea cucumbers and Dungeness crabs shared space with rock cod and flounder. It looked like an underwater anthill, there was so much activity. When we were done with the tour, we made our way down the boardwalk. Andy and Paul wanted to ride the bumper cars. But when stood by the red line, they were not tall enough to ride alone. After just a tiny bit of pleading, our dads agreed to take all of us on the ride. Amy and I climbed in with my dad, while the boys got in with theirs. We giggled and squealed as the carts zipped around, bumping and whirling, in a crazy game. Our moms stood by, laughing and waving. On the way back, we had purple snow cones. That night, Amy and I sorted our collection of shells and other treasures wed found while beach combing. We stayed awake late, whispering in the dark. I watched the full moon outside the window, and wished our vacation didnt have to end. Although the adults talked about it, we never did get back to that cottage. A busy, happy summer came and went. The Johnsons moved away not long after school started, and Amy and I lost touch. I thought of my old friend the other day, when I found a photograph taken during that long ago vacation. Two eight-year-old girls wearing toothless grins and dragging a massive piece of driftwood, on their way to a new adventure. It all came back in a flash, after more than thirty years, the wonderful week at the crooked old house in Lincoln City. ¬ 2005 Mary Cibulka Brown

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(995 words) Second grade, the beach, spring vacation, life is good.

Comments





Anthony
2/25/2010 9:03 AM Premium
Great work! Use the promote tools to get the exposure you deserve.

anndrewart
2/8/2010 6:58 PM
Do you realize how few people there are here who can actually turn a phrase? And forget all the blaring grammatical errors. I truly enjoy your work. I can really live in your writing.

thedreamco...
6/3/2009 5:44 PM
This is a beautiful tale and the decriptions were so vibrant and alive. I remember times like this with my cousin. We grew up in Pismo Beach, California in a place much like you've described!

 



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Uploaded By:

Buddhacat


Votes: 7
Views: 1,517
Date: 5/15/09
Category:
Other: Writing