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Dreaming of Beachfront Property

camper.jpg Welcome home beach bums! ~ email from my friend Kathleen.

I recently realized that ocean camping fulfills a lifelong dream of mine. The one in which my girlfriends and I skip school and vow to live on the beach forever. While growing up on the narrow peninsula of Hull, Massachusetts, we built fires with drift wood and heated up cans of Campbell’s chicken noodle soup using quahog shells for bowls. It was fun, but then seemed to take forever for the school buses to bring the kids home from school, at which point we knew we could go back to our warm houses again.

Now I live in the mountains and have a camper with a stove, a refrigerator, a bed, and a heater. Having a camper makes me feel self-sufficient and appeals to my childhood love of fort building; which we did in the nooks and crannies of the granite boulder seawall in our neighborhood. It’s like owning a mortgage-free retirement home that I can take to ocean whenever I get homesick for it.

At the ocean, I’m a girl again. Everything is brighter against the grey canvas of water, sand, and sky, and the world seems to open up like a shell ready to explore. My favorite time for exploring the beach is early evening in the warm glow of the setting sun, which is when my husband and I set out walking while camping at Hunting Island State Park recently.

On the south end of the park, there’s a section of beach that can only be reached at low tide where evidence of changing landscapes and the impermanence of life can clearly be seen. Gigantic uprooted trunks with gnarly roots still lie where they fell when the ocean claimed them in piles and on top of each other. Some are still standing dead; others have worn down to stumps. The scene is a beautiful one and sad one at the same time, and I can’t decide whether to call it a graveyard or an art museum of sculpture. joeonstump.jpg

My husband, who looks for any opportunity to practice yoga or perch from a tree, thinks it’s a playground. Noticing the quiet sadness that had come over me, he reminded me that when one part of the land is lost to the erosion of time another part is being born somewhere else. Both destruction and renewal exist at the same time.

The wind picked up and the sky darkened. We zipped up our jackets, pulled up our collars and headed back to camp where the inviting glow of electric lights shown out from the camper windows. In a surreal convergence of past and present time, I remembered my childhood dreams and saw that they had come true.


Hey, welcome home, Colleen! I enjoyed your beachfront blogging... I share your love for the ocean and I feel like I don't get to spend nearly enough time at the beach. It's March, but I'm thinking about making a semi-New Year's resolution right now to make more trips to the Jersey shore this year.

Wow. Thanks so much for sharing that. I'm adding "get small camper" to my list of things to do.


Oddly enough, I have never spent any time at a beach. I loved the rocky coast of Maine on the rare occasions I was able to visit, but have never walked a sandy stretch of beach at sunset. Thanks to you I now feel deprived; what a beautiful description of your experience!

Ahhhhhhh! Those childhood memories came rushing back with this post.

And ...

I'm walking the beach tomorrow.

It sounds like you are having the time of your life. I love the photos of the wood. Quite amazing!!

There are still places here on the beachs and in the preserves that I want to explore. Maybe when the girl is home. I haven't camped at the beach but did so in tents in the mountains of Colorado. There even though it was August and hot during the day, the water froze each night. It was a great vacation two years in a row, in spite of some of the company. Glad ya'll had a great time.

Another wonderful post. And you guys took some really fun photos.

i really enjoyed your vacation posts....

so when is 'our' next vacation??? :)

Lu, it's your turn! Why don't you go on vacation and blog us about it? I want to see Tennessee! And the Jersey Shore via Jeanne!

What memories you have restored for me. I took two little kids and hubby in a borrowed camper for a vacation on the Texas shore many years ago. Hubby was not into Yoga then...but he is now. Isn't that funny? We caught crabs, raced land crabs, swam and enjoyed food over a campfire. But we were glad to crawl back into that tiny camper each evening and it WAS just like that fort/cave building thing that we did in our youth!

Words from a poet's heart, Colleen. I have given so much thought to the nature of art and creativity, and to nature itself--my place in it, its overwhelming flow and cycles. It's affect on me. Basically I think it boils down to your thoughts and your husband's, which you have express so well here.

Colleen, you said, "I want to see Tennessee!"

I know you said it in March of 2006, but I'm inviting you and Joe to hop in your camper and come to Chattanooga ... whenever it works for you. From Floyd to here, you would see a good slice of east Tennessee and I would show you some fun places in the Chattanooga area. I'm serious, and I hope you will really consider visiting here someday.

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