Friday, July 20, 2018

Underwater Daydreaming

a cup of grape juice mixed with lemonade on a beach towel with a beach bag
Grape Juice and Lemonade, refreshing summertime beverage
 Sunscreen ran into my eyes and stung like crazy until I finally rubbed away the last bit of it.  Every time I re-emerged at the surface after diving under the waves, I wiped the salty water from my eyes with the tips of my fingers leaving my eyelids and the skin covering my cheekbones exposed to the strong summer sun.  There are snapshots of me in an old photo album with white blonde hair, burning red cheeks and freckles dotting the bridge of my nose.  I am wearing shorts and a t-shirt, after beach attire.  Smiling, big front teeth, the Harding teeth, "as big as Chiclets", my dad has always said.  Remember that gum?  Rectangles of smooth, hard candy shell encasing the chewy center, bright white spearmint or multi-colored "fruit" flavored in the orange box.  Shake the box to release one into your hand and pop it in your mouth.
  Soft waves at Chapoquoit beach,  I am diving underwater and opening my eyes to the world below the surface.  A blur of tan, orange, black and brown pebbles worn smooth by the surf.  Bright green seaweed attached to larger rocks, drifting and rocking back and forth with each surge of the water.  I held my breath for as long as I possibly could, for what seemed like five or even ten minutes to an eight or nine year old me.  In reality, it was more like thirty seconds.  I popped up through the water with a gasp into the bright sunlight, impossibly blue sky. 
  I spent a lot of time in the water day dreaming, playing, talking to myself.  No friends around to goof off with, they were all off doing something else: summer camp, visiting far away family, trips to Vermont.  I was compelled to make my own fun or play with my younger brother.  Lost in thought, daydreaming, bobbing up and down in the waves, I can't recall what I played at or thought about during all those hours swimming at the beach, only how it felt to float on my back in the salt water as my body drifted a few feet away and my mother yelled for me to come back in front of her to where she could see and watch over me.
  None of Declan's friends were at the beach the other day.  There is usually a crew of boys who spend their time fishing off the dingy dock then running over to jump off the big dock at high tide, after that start a pick-up game of Wiffle ball on the sand behind the life guard chair until they jump back into the water again. They expend a lot of energy running around the beach, but not this day.  All was quiet.  Elderly couples reading hard cover novels checked out from the library down the street, moms with infants and toddlers nestled under umbrellas.  And me. No one any twelve year old boy would want to hang out with.  The tide was too low for jumping off the big dock.  He spent a few minutes fishing until the bolt from his rod flew into the water rendering his reel useless.  There was nothing left to do.
  "Mom, do you want to go in the water with me?"  He must have been really desperate.
  We floated in the shallow water near the sandbar, only a few feet deep, watching minnows and hermit crabs scurry away from the monstrous and terrifying shadows our bodies made from the sun's reflection. Declan dove under the water, making his body shimmy like the tiny fish just below the surface then flipped himself onto his back to float near me.  I managed to keep my head, hat and sunglasses from touching the water by moving my arms back and forth and my feet out in front of me, hot pink polished toenails poking through,  just like my mother used to do.  She never wanted to get her hair wet, either.  As he rested, with his eyes shut, the salt water keeping him afloat, he asked me,
  "When you were a kid, did you open your eyes underwater?"
  I smiled and did a small inaudible laugh, the kind when you suck in a little air, my voice not making any noise,
  "Yes", I said.  "Yes, I did."

three kids at the edge of the water at the beach

  Val always packed a lunch for the beach and brought along some juice for us to drink.  Her summer specialty was Welch's grape juice and lemonade made from frozen concentrate and stored in her Tupperware juice container.

Grape Juice and Lemonade
(makes a large container of juice)

1 can (purple) Welch's Grape Juice frozen concentrate (11.5 oz.)* 
1 can frozen lemonade concentrate (11.5 oz.)*
ice cubes

  Allow both cans of concentrate to melt.  Mix each can according to package directions in two different containers.  In a third container combine 1/2 of each mixed juice.  Add enough ice cubes to keep cold.  Place in cooler with plastic cups.  Bring to the beach.

* Newman's Own Virgin Lemonade and Newman's Own Grape make perfect substitutes for the frozen concentrate(s) mixed with water.  Just combine equal parts of each and serve over ice.  Val would approve.

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