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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Ocean and the Passage of Time

During my walk this morning, I thought about what I wrote Sunday about last week at the beach and speculated that there is something about the shore that is conducive to reminiscing. 

The two beach houses pictured were not the only ones that our family once vacationed in that I made a point of walking by, and when I did I thought back about those past visits.  Stores in Bethany Beach also bring back memories of the past 27 years of vacations there.  When I'm near Rhodes 5 and 10, for example, I find myself remembering being in that store when the kids were small and were allowed to pick out toys to play with at the beach.  During my normal routine at home I seldom have those kind of thoughts.

This reminiscing is not just the case of an old man looking back because there is more to his past than to his future.  On one of our first beach vacations, I walked through the town at night and thought back about the summer I spent on the Jersey Shore 20 years before, and I was barely 40 when I was doing that reminiscing.  No, I think there is something about the ocean that summons up such images.

Maybe it's the steady pounding of the surf like the ticking of a clock that make us think of the passage of time.  Also, there is the movement of the sun.  During a typical day at the beach, I set up the umbrella in mid-morning and find myself moving my beach chair to stay in its shade as it moves as the day goes on.  I'm like a human sundial.  In writing about the importance of rhythms last Fall (, I mentioned that during beach visits I try to get into the rhythms of the tidal changes.  The pounding of the surf against the beach and the rise and fall of the tides- they both mark time.  Maybe these rhythms click in our minds and make us think of times past.

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