An Early Morning Walk on the Beach

by Don Meyer, Ph.D. | Jul 23, 2011

"Man cannot survive without air, water, and sleep. Next in importance comes food. Close on its heels comes solitude."
Thomas Szasz

Each summer Ed and Gladys Berkey invite us to visit them for a weekend at their home in Ocean City, NJ. Months in advance we set the date and from then on we look forward to every part of being with them down at the shore. We love the early morning stop at Dunkin' Donuts as we start out. We love the drive through the Valley Forge National Park. We even love the Schuylkill Expressway and the view of the skyline of downtown Philadelphia as we approach it and then zip past it on our way to the Walt Whitman Bridge. 

We especially love the signs which invite us to the Atlantic City Expressway. And what can I say about the rest stop which features Ron's Farmer's Market and their famous apple cider donuts. As soon as we are back on the freeway we realize we are not the only ones going to the shore this weekend. 

We enter Ocean City where the old roundabout and narrow two lane rickety bridge are being replaced by a stop light and a beautiful, new four lane bridge. Ahhh, we are back in Ocean City. Even the drive nearly 50 blocks down Asbury Avenue is part of the charm. 

What a weekend. Delicious food. Great conversations. Later in the afternoon Evie and Gladys talked in the house and Ed and I talked by the ocean. A short trip to the boardwalk. Refreshing rest. Sunday morning church at The Ocean City Tabernacle. Lunch at The Crab Trap. 

All too quickly, it was time to say goodbye. Of course, we did have to stop and get some more apple cider donuts to send to Minnesota for Noah, our eight year old grandson. He loves them too. 

But this weekend I did something unique. Early Sunday morning around 6:00am I woke up and decided to go for a walk. I crossed two streets and in just a moment there it was, the expanse of the ocean and without a cloud in the sky, the sun was already well over the horizon. 

Except for an occasional runner, a photographer using a tripod, and a few early morning surfers, I had the entire beach to myself. I breathed deep the sights and sounds and smells and tastes and even the feelings of it all. A delicious hour was ahead. 

I saw the beach front houses kissing the edge of the shore north and south as far as I could see. I saw the snow fences framing the dunes where scattered grass grew. I saw my shadow in the sand. I saw the Ocean City Beach Patrol (OCBP) lifeguard stand #58. Two catamarans were parked on the sand waiting to be put in the water. There on the beach were the remnants of sand castles left by children from the day before. Sea gulls. Sea shells. The foam of the waves. The wood posts from the old pier. So much to see, so little time. 

I smelled the unique cool morning air as it wafted off the ocean. The ocean has a fragrance which draws people of the land to it like a magnet. And once we smell it, we never forget it. 

I heard an early morning dove. I heard the crash of the waves. I heard the sounds of the sea gulls. I even heard a tractor pulling a machine behind it as it cleaned the beach of debris. 

I felt the cool sand under my feet. I felt the fresh morning air. I felt the wet rocks where I sat and meditated. 

I even tasted the brine in the air. 

This must be why Robert Henri wrote, "Why do we love the sea? It is because it has some potent power to make us think things we like to think." 

Think about it.

Dr. Don Meyer is President of 
Valley Forge Christian College, Phoenixville, PA 
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