“The voice of the sea speaks to the soul.”   Kate Chopin

The title of this blog is the same as the title of a small journal I kept while on vacation last week. I love that advice and was drawn to the journal because it features words about being by the sea, such as “At the beach, life is different.  Time doesn’t move hour to hour but mood to moment. We live by the currents, plan by the tides and follow the sun.”  (author unknown)

I had been missing the ocean that surrounds Cape Cod, and so that is where we vacationed. We took along two dear friends, Debbie and John, and planned the trip to coincide with my sister, Rosalie, and her family’s travels so that it could be a family reunion, as well.  In addition, two of our cousins who own condos on the Cape, also joined us for dinner one night – I had not seen them for more than 10 years, and it took months of planning to coordinate our visit.

In my journal I recorded daily experiences, including eating Cape Cod foods like clam “chowda” and fried clams and fresh lobster cooked many ways.  I also wrote about the events and places we went, including a special Monday night meal that I cooked for a family gathering that was meaningful and enjoyable. Here’s my entry:

Italian Night Reunion- The Family Is Alive and Well!

Our menu included stuffed mushroom appetizers with three different fillings; several types of cheeses and crackers;  broccoli salad, fresh tomato and cuke salad, 5 pounds of Grandma’s Meatballs in marinara sauce over 2 pounds of spaghetti; amaretto vanilla, dark chocolate and festive cupcakes with three different icings, chocolate chip bars, wine, beer, soft drinks, coffee and tea.  A feast!!  Just the kind I like!

We gathered 14 of us around two tables in the cottage; each sat 6 and we set up two “TV tables/trays” for John and Al who graciously agreed to the arrangement.  We ate, drank, laughed, ate some more, drank some more, and, finally, the kids peeled away to the upstairs area leaving a table of adults to tell stories, and share remembrances. 

Our mood is affected by this place, this proximity to the shore; another quote in my journal extolls that “The ocean stirs the heart, inspires the imagination and brings eternal joy to the soul.” 

The party’s over and I sit now with my thoughts, reflecting on the memories which linger in the dark quiet while above me on the second floor sleep our roommate/friends,  and next to me sleeps my spouse.  Memories of our special evening, our toasts to “famiglia”, to “reunion”, to “good health”, to “friendship” linger.  Voices from the past, smiles exchanged, and recollections of our parents, our aunts and uncles, all linger in my mind.

Their faces, once so young and innocent, are now a bit weathered and lined.  My cousins have lived through the losses of loved ones – their parents, cousins, aunts and uncles –   as well as the loss of vitality as illness made a stake in their lives.  They have recovered, and they have been resilient.  Theirs are among the faces and smiles I’ll remember when I think of this week. My cousins.  My family.  My peers.  Goodnight, dear friends.  Goodnight, sweet family.  Sleep tight and dream a little dream for me.

Whenever I have spent time at the beach, it always helps me slow down, and slow the world down so that I can be renewed and recharge my “batteries” – some of my most creative moments have come while at the beach.  Another quote from the journal affirms that for me, written by James Carroll, who declares, “There are times when we stop and sit still… we listen and breezes from a whole other world begin to whisper.” I love that about the beach!

The beach is my getaway, my place to be replenished; what’s yours?  And, more importantly, do you go there often enough?  Finding what brings us joy and going there is essential to our good health, our state of mind, and our spiritual needs.  The journal includes a quote from Alec Waugh: “You can fall in love at first sight with a place as well as a person.”  Have you found a place you love?  Do you take the time to visit it as often as possible?

I highly recommend a vacation on Cape Cod; it’s a beautiful area, with quaint shops, abundant beaches, restaurants to whet every appetite, and a serenity that is limitless.  Best times to go depend on what you want to experience:  if it’s sunny hot days you require, then go during the summer months of June, July or August; if it’s a cooler, fragrant climate you seek, then the spring months of April or May are for you; if it’s an even cooler daytime temperature that begs a sweater, and crisp nights to snuggle by a fire are what you are after, then go in September, or October. And if you seek a quiet, solitude then know that winter holds a special magic on the Cape.  The beaches can be walked for long distances without encountering many other people, and there’s always a friendly neighborhood coffee shop, or lunch spot, that are open and will welcome you and warm you.  The Cape is friendly year round.  Trust me on this – even the stormy weather holds pleasure as you feel the full force of Nature’s energy, and witness a display of wind, waves and tides that can literally take your breath away.  Awesome experiences to be had during winter.  You can do what some other friends have chosen during Thanksgiving: they take the ferry to Martha’s Vineyard and spend the weekend in a quaint hotel where they live like the locals who call it home year-round.

Wherever you go, whatever place is your special retreat, go often.  Indulge yourself as much as you can.  Your soul will thank you, and your heart will be happy. Joy will be found and treasured so that when you come home again, the world will look a little more hopeful to you, and your life will be a bit more lilting and light.  Go in peace.  Just go.