Tuesday, September 18, 2012

don't get me wrong...

Don't get me wrong. I enjoy our annual vacation on the Outer Banks of North Carolina as much as anyone else. I like the leisurely pace and the change of scenery, getting away from the hustle of everyday life with its unrealistic expectations, unending obligations, and self-imposed duties.

I like to walk on the beach, to indulge in an afternoon nap, to be able to read--or to write--for hours without interruption. I like to wander through the local shops, to relax with a glass of good wine, and to share light-hearted banter with my family.

It's just not my favorite place to be.

And, it wasn't all that easy to get here this year. With poor Famke confined to the back seat of the car,

we found ourselves stuck--and I do mean STUCK--in a three hour traffic jam because someone, in his unfathomable wisdom, decided it would be a terrific idea to close two of the three bridges into and out of Norfolk to catch up on road repairs over the weekend.

Meaning that all the traffic, including unsuspecting vacationers heading to the OBX, were re-routed across one bridge. Eventually.

Then, on the beach this morning, we were treated to a dermabrasion session compliments of the wind-driven sand that heralded the tornado watch we are now under. While we sit indoors.

It is no secret to my family that I would prefer to unwind in the mountains. In a rustic cabin. Near a boulder strewn river or on the banks of a remote lake.


At the risk of offending my beachcombing family and friends, I’m simply not an enthusiastic fan of the beach. I don’t object to the fact that I have to lather myself with sticky, smelly sun block before I venture out into the sun for even a moment. I can deal with the sand that gets into my ears and between my toes and never washes out of my hair. I don’t complain about sitting under an umbrella, in a patch of shade the size of a hoola-hoop, all day long. All. Day. Long. Every. Day. I can do that.

What annoys me is the sound of it. Not the delightful squeals of children at play. Not the muted chatter of friends and family. Not the incessant squawking of the gulls who have every right to complain. No, what bothers me is that there is never a moment of silence here. Never. The surf rolls in, breaks, and rolls out again incessantly…monotonously…perpetually. While most people find this to be soothing...after a couple of days, I find it tiresome...

...which is why I prefer to relax in the mountains where silence is broken only by the sound of vast, empty space, the sweep of the wind, the sound of an acorn dropping, the rustle of leaves underfoot. Where I can hear myself think…or silence the constant chatter in my head. In the mountains I can walk for miles in the shade of ancient trees and then rest on the banks of a glacial stream. Sink my feet into moss. Inhale the fragrance of wood smoke and wild flowers. Warm myself by a fire. Peacefully. Mindfully. Silently.

Don't get me wrong. I love being at the beach with my family. However, I have to admit that:

“The mountains are calling and I must go.”
--John Muir--
Are you a shorebird or a mountain sprite?


  1. I've never been to either the mountains or the ocean...I rather like a small stream, a pasture, woods..but mostly, I just like to be left alone at home on a quiet day.

  2. I like the beach for about two days. I'm always impressed anew at the power of the ocean. But I feel EXACTLY the same as you. The constant roar and noise drives me crazy.

  3. I adore both. I never tire of listening to the surf, watching the birds, (especially the sandpipers)searching for seashells, or eating fresh seafood. Then again, I love to sit on the back deck of a mountain retreat, too, watching the early morning mist rise from the valley, or tromp through the wooded paths. Yes, I love them both. Seems to me, your family should accompany you to the mountains next year, though.