While it would appear that in the US the road trip is the most popular form of family vacation, the beach is still a popular destination for a holiday in just about every country with or without a coast. The sea is a powerful lure even in countries like Britain and Ireland where there is no guarenteed sunshine and you often see children paddling in the Atlantic in insulated surf suits. The seaside holiday sojourn rose in popularity of the Regency period, when the Prince Regent routinely decamped court to Brighton. Jane Austen’s Persuasion included a seaside sojourn upon which the plot turns. Something about the ozone or the negative ions in the are, the salt spray, the invigourating chilliness of water on sunburnt skin, is universally appealing. It’s cooling in hot weather. You can legally run around nearly naked (although Jane would disapprove of that sort of disrobing.) The seaside is so damn, well, elemental. One quote I came upon celebrates that fact that you can do nothing far more easily there than anywhere else. Although I would query that definition of ‘nothing.’ Kite flying, beach combing, fossil hunting, fishing, swimming, surfing, rock pool skimming, walking, sunrise and sunset watching. These are not nothing. But they are all ways of leisurely letting your mind go out with the tide.
I am fortunate enough to live fifty minutes from the coast, so we can take day trips as and when we find a window. Winter beaches can be quite as wonderful (and less crowded) than summer ones.
Today’s Poetry Daily celebrates my favourite summer place since childhood. It truly does embody my happy place. The first line is a quote from Umair Siddiqui.
Gosh, you would think that with winter approaching people would be drawing in and getting less busy. November is National Novel Writing Month, for those of you who want to write a novel in thirty days. (No!) If I remember correctly there is something called Movember that involves shaving or not shaving. It also no seems that the 30 Days of Gratitude is an actual social media thing,too. I didn’t know this until I saw a post on my niece’s Instagram account this morning. And they even have a theme for each day. Today’s theme for #30DaysGratitude is Happiness. Which is a huge theme. And while I get that with all the woe that infects the cyber shere that it is important to redress the balance, I cannot help but worry that it does not become escapism. Ignoring something does not make it not so. Don’t get too comfortable with cozy, is all I say. And that, too, can be a point of gratitude. Be grateful for older women with long memories. We have known joy and sorrow. We have got the measure of happy.
But to think about happiness as a thematic hook…well, that was kind of easy. The beach, the sea, are always my happy places. I don’t care if it has honky tonk board walk, or crumbling piers or are picture postcards of artistic seascapes. Every manifestation of coast -sand, pebble, rock pool, dune, crumbling cliff, salt spray, ozone, screeching gull – is all kinds of happiness for me.
Today’s poetry practice celebrates beachcombing, which is a major part of seaside happiness for me. It is an octet, an unrhymed octave, which you can then also work in reverse. Each line has one less syllable, going from one to eight. Then reverse. And it is interesting how that works.