“Brooklyn!” the mom on the Los Angeles playground called out to her child swinging from primary colored monkey bars. “Careful!” “Chicago!” a nearby dad called to his daughter. “Hold London’s hand, please!” “China and Thai,” cried another parent. “Play nicely!”
“Fred Willard Jimbob Joe!” I shouted at my son. “It’s time to head for the A/C!”
My son, whose name is not Fred Willard, etc., replied: “But Mama—I’m playing with Sterling!”
And then we left town.
We zoomed North to a beach for a few days. Right away we found this pretty little poem to treasure:
We visited the place that has these displayed and as the children I accompanied explored the dimly lit room, petting sea otter pelts and giggling at samples of petrified skunk poop, I inhaled the scent of well-aged taxidermy and possibly rotting oak beams and stared into eyes (all eyes the same color, but so different from neighboring heads—a dully radiated difference, quite apparent) and thought: There must be a poem in them. I must find the poem.
We stayed in a sister’s beach cottage. She gave me books from our childhood. Enid Blyton, mostly. Back in the day, I was mad for anything Enid wrote. I had a reputation for finishing an Enid novel and promptly starting it again. All these decades later, I scan the pages of my old Enid books and am grateful I was able to tear myself away from her and move on to Joan Aiken. Still—Enid. How you saved me so many gray and rainy English days when the parents were finding everything wrong with life and the house felt too big and my sisters and I grouped in the playroom, reading for hours. Or maybe it was just me, reading for hours. Yes. Probably. Enid-stuck. Enid-held. Boom, crash went all that thunder. ..That’s the thing about going away: there’s always something new to remember.
A beach town impressively infested with blooming hydrangea. Beachside restaurants with tables set up on the sand. Beaches closed to swimming due to great white shark sightings, but what better excuse for walking those beaches for, say, 4 miles round trip? You can still get wet, ice-up your heels just below the surfline. Watch out for landed bees and tar blobs, but you won’t get stung, not you. Your head is in that fog slowly eaten by sun. I’m talking break-throughs. I’m talking: where to get them.