Summer! My favorite season! A sentiment I declare, incessantly, to kith and kin and strangers scurrying to get the hell away from the crazy lady screaming about good riddance to bad turtlenecks.
In fact, I rant about the joys of summer so often, with so little awareness of my own tunnel vision, that I have pretty much alienated everybody in my life.
But who cares? The more I drive people away, the more summer for me!
Okay, that might not be the way it works, exactly. We’ll sort that out later.
Right now, summer is calling to me.
“Sharon,” summer is saying. “Cancel that way-overdue haircut appointment! Total waste of money in July, when you’re all about the ponytail-and-baseball-cap. And also? Call in sick. A job’s a job, but you only get so many hazy-hot-and-humids in a lifetime! Carpe triple-h-day, bay-bee!”
So, summer is kind of like the snake over yonder in Eden. Not the most reliable of friends. But (given my seasonal surge on the obno-meter) my only remaining friend.
And the most A-1 trick of my close friend summer is the beach.
Day trips to the beach are the nectar of the gods. If, that is, the gods prefer to create drinks out of peak experiences instead of fruit juice. And who am I to say they don’t?
Day trips to the beach with your children? The nectar of the gods, in a sippy cup.
Even in New England, where the water temperature is criminally un-bathtub-like, the beach is balm for the soul. A few hours of splashing around and mingling with strangers and saving your fried dough from marauding seagulls, and you’re set. Very little in life is wrong enough that a day at the beach can’t fix it.
I brought up my kids on a well-rounded summer diet of beach, putt-putt golf, other people’s swimming pools, the occasional soft-serve for supper and more beach.
What I discovered, though, is that around my neighborhood, when people say they are going to the beach, they usually mean they are spending the summer at the Cape. Or spending the week on the Vineyard. Or spending the day on Plum Island.
I have personally witnessed the appeal of these pristine destinations. But for me, and I cannot emphasize this enough, they are not worth the schlep.
My entire parenting philosophy, come to think of it, has been pretty much based on calculating whether or not any given activity is schlep-worthy.
For me, the beach math adds up like so: It’s a schlep if getting to the beach in question means I need to drive on a highway any longer than it would take to listen to a mood-setting beach music single. That is, yes, three and a half minutes, tops. [see below]
Another schlep factor: Any excursion that involves packing food for children (besides the ever-present bucket-o’-Cheerios for toddlers).
So, with alternatives at hand for the schlep-averse, why spoil a summer adventure with traffic and highways and lovingly packed coolers full of healthy meals? Instead, I offer, just go to Revere.
That’s Revere Beach. America’s first public beach. Perfection.
You’ve got your sand, you’ve got your surf (well, your mini-surf), and you’ve got enough pizza, hot dogs and French fries to fortify you and your troops for the duration.
And hoo boy, do you have people. All kinds, and lots of them. A microcosm of America. Come one, come all, in bikinis and Speedos and skirt-suits and cut-offs and polyester housedresses.
And maybe best of all? Easy access. Revere Beach is the only urban beach in Greater Boston with a full array of amenities that’s also easy to reach by regular ol’ subway. And none of this “hike a mile and a half from the T station while dangling sand pails from your pinkie and dragging your cherubs behind you.”
If there are children who don’t love trains, I haven’t met them. So the journey is half the excitement. Green Line or Orange Line to the Blue Line. Blue Line to Revere Beach. Walk across the street. Ocean. Jackpot.
Perhaps you are skeptical. Not that long ago, Revere Beach had some cleaning up to do. Suffice it to say, it got done. So much so that when it comes to water quality, the advocacy group Save the Harbor/Save the Bay gives the place an A+.
So, yes, perfection, or close enough. Natural beauty. Eavesdropping potential for wicked excellent accents and languages. Plenty of company for collaborative sand castle engineering. Regulars sprawled on the wall offering fodder for the eternal question, “Why?” Low-flying airplanes. Ability to observe older gentlemen with head-turning tans who set up shop on lawn chairs on the sidewalk. Public bathrooms. I repeat, public bathrooms.
And at the end of the day, when it’s time to finally drag the kids home, and they don’t want to leave — because really, who ever wants to leave the beach? — they perk right up. Because, remember? Midway between the rippling wavelets and the T station, the ice cream shop cannot be denied.
As rainbow sprinkles drip all over our t-shirts, and we realize we left behind our favorite football, and the sun sets on the Blue Line train back to Boston, I don’t need to prattle on about summer. Living it will do.