Sheryl Kraft, a freelance writer and breast cancer survivor, was born in Long Beach, New York. She currently lives in Connecticut with her husband Alan and dog Chloe, where her nest is empty of her two sons Jonathan. Sheryl writes articles and essays on breast cancer and contributes to a variety of publications and websites where she writes on general health and wellness issues. She earned her MFA in writing from Sarah Lawrence College in 2005.Full Bio
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Last weekend, when the weather finally felt like summer, I headed to my favorite place on earth: the beach. Two glorious days in a row – how lucky can you get? – we were treated to the most perfect beach weather. Finally.
I don't know about you, but the sun, combined with that certain kind of warmth, puts me in the best mood.
I grew up with the beach practically in my backyard. And it's hard to remember a time when I didn't spend my days there. That's just how it was – no questions of where to go; it was a given. I loved to be there – simply had to be there. Like a turtle, I had an inexorable pull back to the water – and it still exists for me, today.
Untroubled, I dug in the sand as a young child (remember thinking if you dug deep enough, you could reach China?); sunbathed as a young teenager (the thought of what that did to my skin makes me cringe today with fear and shame), collected admission tickets when I turned old enough to work and focused on endless awe-inspiring sunsets when I got too old to build sandcastles.
Today, I never go the beach without a bag stuffed to the brim with an umbrella, towels, books, sunblock, magazines, food and water. Most of the time, everything in my bag gets used. But the last time I was there, I was content to just sit and stare at the placid water, my mind happily empty; occasionally glancing around to watch all the rest of the action around me. And although it was noisy – conversations, radios, crying babies - I was immersed in a cocoon of muffled silence. There's something so magical about the sand; an immediate playground for kids. They march onto the beach with a fixed and focused agenda and quickly get down to the business of priming it for construction – digging away, producing great big worlds of their own imaginations. Watching them reminded me of the time I set up an ant farm for my own kids and had trouble looking away; staring at it for hours on end, mesmerized and fascinated by the purposeful, determined and unambiguous roles each and every ant had and the way they made their way through the gazillion grains of sand.
But suddenly, the mesmerizing silence was broken with the sounds of sirens. The shrill sound of the lifeguard's whistles preceded their mad dash toward the action. Like seagulls flocking to a boat full of just-caught fish, the crowd gathered at the shore to see what was going on. I was jolted into memories of all the times I witnessed frightening things at the shore; actual or near-drownings, gashes from hidden glass buried deep within the sand, feet scraped raw by rough-edged shells on the ocean's floor, fainting from dehydration or too much sun, blister-laden sunburns severe enough to spike a fever or warrant a trip to the hospital.
Okay – you've gotten this far. You're probably wondering what happened on that day. Well, so am I. All I know is that in short time, the ambulance took off, sirens blazing, followed by a slower and more leisurely fire truck with the firemen waving out the open windows to the kids who stood by, rapt. I'm hoping it was nothing more than a stubbed toe, but that's doubtful.
I tell you this story for a few reasons. One, any time I get the opportunity to write about something I love, I run with it.
But there is another, more important reason. We all love summer. And it's important to remember that sometimes it messes with you - the heat, the sun, your skin, your eyes.
This matters> Here are some important tips to keep you enjoying your summer while you stay safe. Please take your time to read them and keep them in your mind so that your summer days will be as carefree as mine were as a child.
P.S. One reason I love writing this blog is that my readers have, over time, shared so many helpful and new tips. Maybe you have some summer safety tips – or summer memories – of your own to share here.