One recent Saturday (scorching hot), there was drama at the beach: a small sail boat had capsized, and police helicopters hovered in the blue sky above. “What happened?” We asked a policeman walking up from sand scattered with scantily-clad bodies. “We think they’ve swum to shore but we’re not sure,” he replied before walking off in the other direction. Our eyes scanned the horizon and the crashing waves, spotting a clipper being towed away, and other beach-goers with their hands positioned on their foreheads -- doing the same. When the choppers eventually flew off and the noise from their blades had abated, the air filled instead with laughter and conversations resumed. Ice creams continued to melt, and sunscreen was slipped, slapped and slopped onto warmed skin. Order at the beach had been restored once again.
Later, I left the group positioned under the bows of a fig tree (picnic blankets bestowed onto patchy grass, and hunks of watermelon dripping from hungry mouths) passing small tents put up hastily in the morning heat, and towels decorated with shiny, motionless limbs, for the ocean. There were bikinis of all colors, shapes and sizes, boardshorts, and two woman covered head to toe in black garb. The sand pushed up between my bare toes as I watched them enter the water as I did, all of us relieved of the heat. A man played motorboats with a child, the little body paddling along laughing in his arms. A body boarder sped past them, his legs motionless as he crested a wave. This was a day at the beach, I decided, as I dunked my head under the water, feeling the bubbles leave my nose.
Back on the sand, I removed the straps of my bikini and lay on a towel, little droplets of salty water soaking into it, feeling satiated. A man with tattoos turned in my direction. I turned the other way and towards a posse lain out as I was, tunes blasting from a small speaker. “Unbelievable,” someone said. It was hard to get any reading done under these circumstances. The sunlight bore into my skin as a friend joined me on the towel. “It’s hot,” she said. So, we made our way off the sand and towards the boardwalk which we strolled down as if time had stopped. There were children in wetsuits, boisterous teenagers jumping, and families strewn about as if they hadn’t a care in the world. On the beach on a Saturday. Soon, it would be time to go and picnic baskets would be packed. Blankets and towels would be shaken of sand and debris and umbrellas folded. Cars would be loaded, and the carparks would empty; as the sun moved overhead, beach-goers would seek solace, with burned bodies aching, and the beach would be left alone and quiet again -- until tomorrow.