Monday, August 23, 2010

Sea Isle

For five years now my family has rented a place in Sea Isle City on the Jersey Shore in August. We fly out from California and meet up with my parents, brothers, partners and kids to spend the better part of a week before heading to Connecticut with Paul's family. I always look forward to Sea Isle, especially the long days at the beach reading and body-surfing.  Tumbling in the waves, I surrender in a way that seems impossible in my daily life.

The weather was beautiful this year (just one rainy day) and I finally got some exercise.  I was sore for days after Beach Boot Camp but it felt so good to work my long-ignored muscles.  Later in the week we found a yoga instructor to do a morning class on the beach for our family.  We laid our towels in an arc on the sugary sand and faced the ocean. After a summer of thinking at every turn that "I'm not doing it right" it felt so good to gaze out into the waves in tree pose.

The highlight of the vacation though -- after the clam and cocktail-filled happy hours, riding the roughest waves, and watching the six cousins create hama bead designs -- was our family bike ride. 

As we set out from the condo, our three kids miraculously riding alongside us, I turned to Paul and said, "Look at us! A year ago I never thought we'd be able to do this, but look at us!"

The ride was not without incident of course -- just after I celebrated the milestone with Paul, Oscar's tires slipped on the sandy sidewalk and we looked back to see him sprawled on the ground, tangled up in his bike. He'd cut his lip, and the blood mixed with his tears and ran down his chin.

And yet, somehow we managed to go on.  It took an eight block walk to CVS for water and paper towels, but Oscar did recover from the fall and remount his bike.  He overcame his resistance to using coaster brakes and stopped dragging his toes when Abe and Ruby demonstrated the technique for the 100th time.  He overcame his anxiety about pedaling into the wind when Paul explained that the winds were wimpy in the morning. (That's why Grandpa always sails in the afternoon!) He overcame fatigue in the last twenty blocks when I distracted him, first by looking for punch buggies, and then by watching the block numbers whiz by.

As I coasted beside Oscar on the last leg of that four mile loop (with stops for mini-golf and lunch), I realized that the bike ride was a perfect example of how things tend to go for us. For any endeavor, whether it be participating in school, playing with friends, or learning to ride a bike, Oscar supplies an enormous amount of perseverance. And the rest of us -- teachers, coaches, friends, family, even Abe and Ruby -- contribute mountains of patience and scaffolding and encouragement and humor and shaping. It's exhausting, but our collective efforts often pay off.  And I am grateful for that.


  1. This is a beautiful story of family and life, and a good illustration of how you can be in the midst of something, and with awareness, be very present to its riches. It sounds as if it was a wonderful vacation, and I'm so thankful for it, for your beautiful family, and for your gentle insight.

  2. What a happy post -- I am thrilled to read it and thank you for sharing it!

  3. THX for sharing all this, Mare. Appreciating your sharing all that's going on and what you are learning from it. Sending love from Asheville, Drew.