Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Sand Sculpture

I found these today while poking around on Webshots site. It reminds me of the Neptune Festival which is held every September in Virginia Beach and I think it's a Saturday morning when they all start their sculpting. It truly is a great experience watching the large mounds of dry/wet sand slowly transform into art.

And since I still have no idea how to put a picture inside a post even with it's own url, you'll have to unlazy yourself and click on the link. Some of them are very worth it so hurry!

I used to go to the beach's Neptune Festival every year until I moved too far away from it. I was even in the parade one year, when I was about 10 I think. My mom had this friend who we loved to visit and her then husband was in the Navy, too. She didn't have any kids of her own but that didn't stop her from being another mom to us. Perhaps that is why she loved kids so much. You tend to not want to be around other people's kids when you've got your own.

A few times we were even treated to a 1st floor hotel/motel room in honor of the festivities.

Anyway, I like to think it's held so late in the year to guarantee that most of the tourists have gone away. Virginia Beach's tourist season ends after Labor Day generally because then school starts, kids are once again relegated to classrooms and so forth.

I went to Virginia Beach for the day Saturday and part of my trip was to Sandbridge because we knew there wouldn't be gobs of people there. We were right. My friend L. and I took our nephew with us and he played in the water while poking fun at us. We stood on the very edge. Just enough to get our feet wet but nothing else.

Then I remembered someone's meme asking about smells that reminded you of the beach and I said this to my friend L., who I knew would agree with me: there is nothing that reminds me of the beach at all other than the beach itself. Sometimes things will happen that conjure up memories from trips to other beaches or interesting trips to that beach, but I can't smell seafood and immediately connect it with the drumming of waves onto shore.

You see, growing up only 15 min or so from the beach, I could go anytime I wanted, especially after I learned how to drive. Friends and I went almost daily and quickly found pieces of shoreline that were unattended by the mobs of tourists. We would go during our lunch hour, after we got off work, early in the morning before chaos was to begin, even a few times while hurricanes waited patiently offshore before deciding whether or not to attack us. Pat Robertson even prayed a few away, how nice of him.

There is no greater sight to behold than an angry ocean with a tumultuous sky looming just beyond. It will leave you awe-struck. Seriously.

I've taken my dogs for lots of walks there: Storm would fling herself into the water whereas Echo would run toward the water but, much like a little kid, as soon as she saw the water coming to greet her, ran right back to the safety of dry sand. This was her idea of playing with the ocean, not in. Shia never cared either way but loved helping herself to all the people around us. (No, I did not take them all at once by myself, I'm not totally nuts.)

Then there was the time when I called up some friends I knew, piled them all into my '78 Ford Fairmont with surfboards attached on top and spent the day at the beach. The guys surfed while my friend Robin and I talked or read our books. When we got up to go to the bathroom I think it was, we discovered hundred's of ladybugs flying around. Apparently they had choosen the highly populated area to mate. Ladybugs were in our bathing suits, in our hair, crawling up our arms and it is something I have not experienced since.

Once I turned 21, friends and I would hit The Block. The smell of the ocean was always there and on warm summer nights, we'd visit the beach before and after the bars. I even had a guy ask me once if I needed a chaperon and another jump off the pier only to run up to me and ask me what my sign was. I think he gave me a flower, too, but I'm not sure.

Sandbridge was originally built on a large sandbar but with hurricanes and strong northeasters blowing through, the beach had all but disentegrated. I think it was 1997 or 1998 when the last hurricane blew through. I lived in an apartment then, much closer to Norfolk. It was only a Category 2 (that is when I decided that I was leaving if anything stronger came our way) and I remember seeing some of the houses in Sandbridge toppled into the water. (Driving around looking at the "after" was just as eerie because it's so calm and clear after so much destruction.) There was no beach anymore and suddenly, beachfront property had become oceanfront property. They spent over $2 million to dredge up sand only to have it wash away again. Why they thought a sandbar was a great place to build on, I'll never know. Now they are just trying to save it but our past still dictates our future and a Water World we may one day be.

So I think what this means is nothing can quite remind me of the ocean's characteristic's but the ocean's characteristic's can remind me of other things that have happened in my life.

All these memories make me realize that so much of my life has been spent at the beach.

The beach doesn't look anything like it used to though. They've built a new boardwalk, massive concrete bulkheads with beautiful ocean scenery etched into them and dredged up so much sand from the ocean the beach is now 3 times wider than I remember it being when I was a kid. You can no longer curse, excessively honk your horn, yell out your window, hang out your window, drive passed the same spot 3 times within 1 hour, spit your gum out onto the sidewalk, etc.

They do have "sidewalk acts" in the summer months though. The tourist guide people want Virginia Beach to be a "family-friendly" place and so far they are succeeding. Except when the bikers come to town that is, ;).

Still, I couldn't imagine being too far inland and my mom has even told me she couldn't imagine me being landlocked. She's right. As much as I love the mountains, the beach is my home and hopefully I'll be able to go back someday.