Sometimes, when it seems winter will never end, it helps to get a promise of spring.
This morning, two of my favorite girls (my daughter and a daughter-in-law) planned a family get-together at the beach.
Not everyone in the family could make it. But those of us who live nearby (five to 30 minutes away) showed up.
There was my husband, sitting on the steps that go down to the beach, where it was easier to get up, he said, than on the blanket in the sand, where I sat bundled up in a Polarfleece jacket like a beached grandmother whale.
There was my son, my youngest, offering to drive home to get me a beach chair, fetching me coffee from the snackbar, attending to my every need.
There were my girls, watching over their little ones the way I once watched over mine.
And there were four of the eight grandchildren my husband and I share in our big, blended family, ages 10, 9, 7 and 5, laughing and cavorting in wet suits in the frigid waves like seriously cute sea otters.
I wish you could’ve seen them.
It was a glorious sunny day, only 55 degrees, not balmy, but bearable. Lots of folks were on the beach, trying like us, to keep a safe distance apart. Most, but not all, were wearing masks.
If you’ve never tried it, take it from me, it’s weird wearing a mask at the beach. I didn’t like it, but I did it. There are lots of things we don’t like about living in a pandemic. But we do them because we like being alive.
This beautiful cove — Lovers Point in Pacific Grove, Calif. — holds so many memories for me.
I raised my three children in an 80-year-old house about a 10-minute walk from here.
We spent countless hours in every season on this and other beaches along this peninsula.
Their dad taught and coached at Monterey High nearby for almost 30 years, until we lost him to cancer. The kids grew up, married and had kids of their own. My oldest is an actor and a writer. My daughter is a teacher. And my youngest, who’s now a realtor, taught third grade for seven years at the school where he went to third grade. If I seem proud, it’s because I am.
I remarried years ago. My husband and I live in Carmel Valley, 20 miles from here.
Today, on the beach, I pointed to the snackbar and told Henry, my grandson, how his mom worked there as a teenager.
Then I stood, looking out at the bay with my youngest, who wrapped me in a bear hug (when my boys hug you, you know you’ve been hugged) as I asked him this question:
“Do you remember,” I said, “when you were little, like your babes are now, when we came here, just you and me? I’d sit on a blanket and watch you boogie board in the surf. You’d keep at it until you turned blue. Then you’d run to me and I’d wrap you in a blanket and hold you until you stopped shaking. Then you’d go back and do it again?”
He laughed. “Yes, Mom,” he said, “I remember it well.”
Before leaving, I exchanged “I love you’s” with my loved ones. I don’t know if they needed it, but I did. Then my husband and I drove home to Carmel Valley.
This evening, we bundled up again and went out, as we do most days, to watch the sunset.
The sky was turquoise. The air was cold. The sun was slowly sliding over a mountain we call Chocolate Drop. Flocks of geese flew honking back to the river to bed down for the night. Wild turkeys gobbled in the distance. Frogs croaked. Hummingbirds buzzed. Dogs barked like they meant business. And on a plum tree that my husband had pruned and feared he had killed, we saw the first signs of life with tiny buds of snow white blooms.
Start to finish, it was a gift, a winter day filled with family and the promise of spring to come.
A promise isn’t everything. But sometimes, it’s enough.
Sharon Randall is the author of “The World and Then Some.” She can be reached at P.O. Box 922, Carmel Valley CA 93924 or at www.sharonrandall.com.