I was recently able to spend a week on North Topsail Island, NC, with a good friend. I’d never been there before, so I was excited to add that beach to my list of sixty first places while in my sixties. It was a quiet week, a perfect opportunity for calm, for knitting, for looking at old pictures while I organized them on my computer. Why don’t you fix yourself a cup of tea, or coffee, and share one of my mornings with me?
It is dark as I walk out onto the beach, black velvet draped over all that is in front of me, water, sand, and sky. Daylight is not even a suggestion at this hour, when the horizon wears its stars like a tiara. I stand with my toes just at the water’s edge, and shut my eyes for a moment, letting the sound of the ocean monopolize my senses. I find myself breathing in time with the rhythm of the waves, in, then out with the same kind of whoosh. I feel the mist teasing my skin and then my eyes open as a wave grabs my feet and sucks the sand out from under them. It’s a clear night, and in the distance, there are blinking lights, one red, one green, two white twinkles as if stars had fallen. Perhaps there’s a lighthouse to the left, and maybe a boat chugging south, or a sleepy dog momma with a flashlight, walking her wide awake puppy. To the east of the island there is now a faint purple-gray bruising to the sky. One whispy cloud drifts by.
In my hands, I hold a mug, my fingers dancing over its surface to keep from burning. My tea is hot, the air is comfortably cool. I sip, then inhale the spicy orange scent as the color in the sky widens, shifting to a pale pink layered just above the water. A fishing boat comes clearly into view, an early start to catch the daily special for the pier restaurant, or a charter, off to make Tommy Tourist a happy man. The color streak in the sky widens into a slice of orange, and the once black water has turned into a shimmering silver-blue and white, highlighted with the pinks and oranges of the sunrise. Only a few stars remain, faint but persistent, and now an airplane’s smoke trail can be seen, another color added to the pale canvas before me. I continue to enjoy my tea and the sky turns to yellow, hints of pink still struggling to not be erased by the daylight. Black smoke puffs out of the fishing boat, its color out of place in the pastel picture. I see a man on the balcony behind me, lifting his cup to his lips, almost a salute to the start of the day. A young couple comes into view, snapping pictures of what’s left of the sunrise, the colors of which are fading quickly. I’m surprised they are up this early but maybe they haven’t even gone to bed yet. Young love and a sunrise. My heart yearns for a second, then I shrug. Been there, done that, along with the rough road that followed. I can’t see the sun yet, but the clouds now moving in have turned pink, a last burst of color from the huge mass hiding just below the horizon. The fishing boat and it’s black tail are gone, and now birds fly by, black shadows against the lightening sky. One, two, five, and they disappear in the direction of the boat. One lone bird is chasing the waves on the shore, pecking for tidbits of breakfast.
My tea is gone, my mind is calm, and beach magic reigns as the sun shyly peeks over the edge of my current world. I can already feel its heat on my skin and I close my eyes again. When I open them, seconds later, daylight has arrived. I start walking into a day that is already far more than a few steps beyond my normal.