In the winter, you can close your eyes on Saunton Sands and run. You navigate by the sound of waves. I have never yet made the blind sprint without laughing; in spite of the cold, my shoes are off, my feet get a cold burn, I hear Dog padding nearby. My broken foot hurts, but I can’t resist, the rush is worth the hurt.
In the summer, the plain of sands is peopled. They are not bothering me, I don’t resent them, I wouldn’t send them all home: it makes for a different experience, that’s all.
The water is warm. I wade in with Dog till she paddles beside me. She swims around the bustle of shore craft; the short boards, the body boards, one kayak, the mini-mals and the long boards.
These summer people are in wetsuits, wisely, considering the wind-chill factor.
On dry sand the summer people have windbreaks, deck chairs, beach blankets, buckets. Paraphernalia. It is worth having, if you use it and if you enjoy it; for what it is not how it makes you look. This is what I decide as I am sat in my drenched shorts on bare sand, wondering why I left the towel in the car boot and where Mr might be with the keys.
Mr and Will are two of the multitude of long boarders.
My Spartan-style sitting, however, is not unaccompanied. Miche is mentioning (not quite complaining, you understand, because she sees the humour in it right away) that Graham has brought the kids to the beach with no toys, so I lend them Dog.
Dog is back in her armchair now, fast asleep. You will be pleased to learn, incidentally, that I have removed a deer tick from her eyelid with a tick hook.
At the new house, I ponder, there will no room for Dog’s armchair. Some indulgences will be curbed by the space, even if useful, even if we enjoy them for all the most correct reasons. The tick hook will be moving with us, that’s an easy choice.
I think about the beach, again: so much easier than sifting through my own paraphernalia. How to emancipate myself from this collected stuff without the loss of things that inspire me?
Think of running on the winter beach, eyes closed.
Back to the clutter, with clarity: if it doesn’t fit, you can’t keep it; if it is a memento of inspiration past, you can’t keep it; if it still inspires you, keep it.
If I keep the journey flowing, make audacious pace into the indefinite, the rush will be worth the hurt.