Summer fun and sand: For some of us, this is ‘the most wonderful time of the year’
I’d like to say “for most of us, … “ but without a spreadsheet in front of me I won’t chance it.
I’ll say this, though: After surviving a scrum of humanity that stealthily formed around me last Saturday with the unpredictability of a late-afternoon coastal thunderstorm, it’s quite possible that this really is “the most wonderful time of the year” for the vast majority of people – at least in these parts.
Those of us who cram all our vacation time into the all-too-brief span from the Fourth of July to Labor Day expect, and have grown to accept – albeit with a deep breath and roll of the eyes – those sudden onslaughts of sun-and-sand worshippers when temperatures climb past the 80 degree mark.
Such was precisely the case last Saturday, when I suddenly found myself surrounded by beach-goers of all shapes and sizes, many with over-stimulated small fry in tow, some trying to balance folding chairs and inflatable sharks and serpents while wrestling packed coolers down the steps to the sand.
Interspersed within the parade of families were older folks, some by themselves, others in couples, all of whom with a common mission: To navigate their way to the safety of the benches perched atop the seawall overlooking the surf below.
To say I frequent this little stretch of southern coastal Maine would be an understatement; indeed, the spot I’m describing is set about in the middle of that stretch.
Stepping out of the way of everything and everyone that seemed to be moving too fast that day, I watched from my new vantage point the proverbial three-ring circus, sans animals but with more than a few clowns.
I spotted a young man wearing a summer-issue police uniform, like the one the bicycle cops wear, then realized oh, yeah, the department does hire a handful of young part-time officers during the summer.
The kid had his hands full, trying to keep the bumper to bumper traffic moving around the one-way circle known as Casino Square, with varied results.
A combination of drivers creeping along searching for a parking space that never did open up, and pedestrians walking every which way through traffic ignoring those painted pathways known as crosswalks, added another layer of tumult to an already tumultuous scene.
At one point, I watched with a bit of concern as a large, burly man wearing a 10-gallon hat, driving a big, four-door extended cab pickup truck with out-of-state plates steer out of the line of traffic and pull partially into a handicap parking spot and begin to unload his passengers and a whole bunch of beach accessories – a practice high on the list of the town’s most egregious no-no’s.
At roughly twice the size of the young cop, I wondered how the man would react when the cop walked over to inform him that he must move on and unload somewhere else.
Although well out of earshot, I watched as the two spoke for what probably amounted to 15 seconds before the man nodded his head, ordered his passengers back into the truck, reloaded the one cooler he’d removed, then climb into his truck and wait patiently for an opening in the line of traffic.
Well, I thought, either the young cop is blessed with a gift of gab with a persuasive streak, or, perhaps more likely, I should be charged with one count of stereotyping.
Guilty as charged, your honor.
After all, “it’s the most wonderful time of the year.”