Walking in Parks with Livia

by Bonnie Steiger © 2010


The Beach

Oh, the freedom, the expanse, the wind, the salt air! There is no place like the beach! Livia and I run along the wet packed sand, leaving our foot and paw prints behind us. No matter how fast we run, our prints keep up. Soon they will be washed away by the next wave and we can breathe a sigh of relief that they won’t overtake us.

Oh, the bigness of the ocean! We can see forever out over the water till our eyes get tired. China and Japan and Hawaii and Indonesia and Melanesia, Java and Guam, Pitcairn and Borneo, the Farallons and Australia. They’re all out there, right out there! There’s nothing between us and them but WATER. If we look hard enough, we could see them -- if we had really, really good eyesight (and if the world were flat).

And the waves never stop meeting us on the sand. We can go to the beach when the waves are little white foam stripes. We can go to the beach when the waves are so big they could crash on our heads and make us dizzy. And sometimes the waves are so very big, we can’t go to the beach at all, but stay in bed with hot cocoa for me and a chewy stick for Livia, and we wait for the sea and the sky to calm.

But the waves never stop. As soon as you think, “Oh, that must be the last one,” another one you didn’t notice before starts bulging out of the sea like a bear waking up from a nap, curling over itself and heading for you all over again.

Even the little foamy trickles never run out of trickly foam to carry up to our feet. Sometimes Livia and I sit on the sand, up on a dune, far from the sea so we won’t get wet, and we just watch wave after wave after wave. We think about the people on the boats way out there, so far we can only see the silhouettes of the boats, but not the people on them. We think about where they’re going and how long it will take to get there, all alone, out at sea. We think about how they might be frightened when the sun sets and they can’t see the horizon in front or behind them. We hope they’re journey is a safe one and they get to where they want to go, dry and happy.

Livia and I have a lot of big thoughts when we’re in such a big place like the beach. It makes us feel bigger and smaller at the same time. We’re bigger because we think about places and people so far away with only water between us. And we hope our wishes for their safe travel will help them. We’re smaller because the beach and the sea and the sky are all so so so so big and we take up so little space, especially Livia. When she’s feeling very little, she sits on my lap and curls up like a ball of knitting wool. I stretch my jacket over and cover her. Then we both feel even smaller, and the beach feels even bigger.

Illustration by Ty Meier