The Real Beach is Calling – Bring Your Bucket

Posted on August 1, 2012

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Living where we do, I have a 70-mile long stretch of lake that’s minutes away, Okanagan Lake, which we are fond of and appreciate for its striking natural beauty. The sandy beach areas, however, are few and very crowded with tourists during these hot summer days. Smells that waft through the air down at the lake range from someone’s fried chicken to “wacky tobacky”, and the sound of lapping waves only happens when a breeze gets up – and even that can get drowned out by a music player. It’s a good place to cool down and have some fun, but it just doesn’t do it for me like getting away for a time to an oceanside beach does. That’s where I like to lose myself and be a kid again.

Catching a break from his own scavengering.

As a youngster, I had to plead with my parents (mostly convince my dad) to include my smelly ice-cream pails full of shells and pebbles and beach glass in the car at the end of a day’s scavenging at the local beach. My ocean souvenirs contained the smells of salt water and seaweed, (snail and mussel shells that may or may not have been totally vacant), and the calm of surfaces pounded over time (coloured pebbles, glass and weathered wood). My mom was less than enthusiastic about how our back porch smelled after the cache from the beach had “percolated” in the hot sun a couple of days later. It did have overtones of dead fish – minus the flocking seagulls – which always impressed our cats. Those were good memories for me, and fostered a lifelong interest in crafting with natural objects.

Over the years, with every family beach holiday, I also endured buckets and buckets of ocean findings as our kids discovered the joys of beach scavenging. The weather didn’t even have to be perfect to have a good time. So when Hubby and I decided upon a short getaway from work, it wasn’t hard to gravitate towards a few days on Vancouver Island, namely the lovely areas of Qualicum Beach, Parksville, and Rathtrevor Beach. At low tide, you can walk out a mile or more in places, on sandy flats and rocked sand bars. The water’s clean and clear and inviting for family splashes in the shallows or sandcastle building. (Parksville held the Canadian Open Sandcastle Competition this year – fabulous!) The fresh air is fantastic and the only sounds to be heard are of kids laughing, the waves breaking at the shore, and the challenges between gulls for fishy delights. It’s bliss.

Isn’t this beautiful?!

My Hubby has always indulged me a special token or souvenir of our vacations. (I think he actually gets off pretty easily since most of my keepsakes come from the woodlands or beaches we spend time at.)  Having said that, though, there has been a standing agreement between us regarding bringing home “treasures” from our seaside vacations: if I can carry it to our car, and it fits in the trunk with our suitcases, then I can bring it home. Those treasures usually mean pieces of driftwood. On this trip, I carried a 5-foot bleached length of driftwood for a quarter-mile to the car, and when Hubby watched me load that puppy into the back seat of the car on a plastic tarp he knew I was serious about driftwood collecting. Thankfully, the other pieces of driftwood I found were just as interesting, but a lot lighter.

Sometimes it’s what you leave behind that’s special.

We are back home again and too soon the routine will take over. My soul has been refreshed for visiting the coast again and walking the ocean sands. I hope we can go back again next year. I’ll pack a smaller suitcase, so there’s more opportunity for “treasure space”. In the meantime, I think I will dig around in some of my old containers of seashells, smooth, Zen-inspiring pebbles, and bits of weathered wood and see if I can’t fashion something wonderfully funky and artisan-like for the back yard. Best of all, there’s no dead fish smell to ruin my “beach space” in the back yard.

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