Beach chair musings while flying a kite

Published 9:30 am Thursday, August 6, 2015

MYRTLE BEACH — For a week, our daily routine was wonderfully boring: Sleep late, make coffee, buy the newspaper, read of Donald Trump’s latest antics, work the crossword puzzle and walk on the beach.

We feasted on Elizabeth’s tomato sandwiches under the umbrella for lunch everyday, flew the kite and moved our chairs with the rise and fall of the tide. We baked for hours in the sun.

No sharks.

A young boy almost drowned in a rip current up the beach. Four life guards dramatically plowed into the waves to pull him to safety. A large crowd gathered on the beach to watch. Our life guard said 20 were pulled out of the surf in Myrtle Beach that day. He had been strict about keeping people around us no further out than knee-deep water. I was content at ankle depth.

My major challenge of the day was climbing out of the beach chair after it had sunk deep in the sand. The knees aren’t what they once were.

Certainly, I may have examined the latest in beach fashion as young women paraded on the sand.

Fewer people seemed to be reading books on the beach this year. There was no single best-seller being held in the beach chairs. Cell phones, however, were commonplace. I winced as a girl held aloft her $600 phone in the deep surf for a selfie. She didn’t drop it.

The winds died late in the week. The kite would no longer climb. Temperatures rose.

I eyed the box scores in the newspaper every morning as the surging Mets climbed closer to the faltering Nationals. Washington is my granddaughters’ team and, therefore, mine.

Temperatures in Baghdad were 122 one day. How could terrorists plant bombs in weather like that?

The CEO of Starbucks, Howard Schultz, is being courted as a Democratic candidate for President to face Hilary Clinton. I have been a Starbucks loyalist for 30 years. I know little about Mr. Schultz’s politics, but I drink his coffee every morning.

I marveled at how much stuff some families haul to the beach. With wagons and carts piled high with folding chairs and toys and shovels and buckets and umbrellas, some fathers trudged like mules through the soft sand to pull their loads.

I had hours every day to examine life, to watch the kite dance in the sky and watch the waves crash.

I took a laptop just in case the office folks needed me. They didn’t. Besides, the Internet connection was so slow I couldn’t get email. I gave up trying on Monday, resisting the urge to go to Starbucks for free wifi. We lounged on the beach without worrying about cyberspace. I was just fine being unconnected.

My big toe sunburned. The thong of my sandal apparently rubbed off the sun screen, that wonderful invention that allows folks like me to sit in the sun. I don’t tan, but I freckle with excellence.

I read about the massive 6,000-tank battle during World War II between the Germans and Soviet Union at the Battle of Kursk in 1943. I read of the 1943 Allied bombing of Hamburg, “Operation Gomorrah”, that killed 40,000 people when the city burned so hot that the flames formed a tornado that sucked victims off the street into the inferno. At that point in the war, the tides shifted against the Nazis as they fought on two fronts.

We anticipated the blue moon July 31 and planned to watch it rise at 8:35 p.m. over the ocean. We parked ourselves along the dunes to watch the heavenly show, but heavy clouds moved in. Lightning flashed. Sprinkles ran us inside.

Our major decision every day was where to go for supper. I like a dive nearby that cooks shrimp in beer and Old Bay. It was a week of escape. The routine worries of home and the office were put on the shelf. Sunk deep into our folding chairs, we did nothing at all … and liked it.

— Dwight Sparks