Fire on the Beach

13 Jul

We sat for a long time, a circle of friends around the fire.

Fire on the sand. Red against pitch dark.

Listening to the rhythm of waves.

The embers two hours in – post-marshmallows, post-bedtime – were still very much aglow.

Wood pieces balanced against one another at the top like an open tent, creating a sort of Hobbit World inside, with sand trails where you could imagine Hobbits hiking, their packs stuffed with food and magic, bursting at the seams.  I didn’t read all the books so I don’t know if that’s really how it was – but magical and other-worldly describes our fire on the beach at night.

Our fire master (fire mistress doesn’t have the same ring) lifted a long stick to re-balance flames around one log we could see was on the cusp of crumbling into gray ash.  Her poker stick slipped and she sent sparks – not only sparks but burning embers – towards the lap of a good friend.  “Ow!” our friend screamed softly so as not to wake our children sleeping in tents on the beach, and with lightning speed tamped down all the tiny fires with sand. “Can someone get my shoe?” she asked. It seems one final ember burned brightly inside her new shoe.

Her partner gasped, flicking the final ember out of her shoe and smothering it with sand.

No damage was done to anyone or anything. No children awoke. No friends went up in flames. There wasn’t even a hole in our friend’s pajamas where her knees, bent up, had protected her chest – and her lap – like a fortress.

* * *

Like the fortress my niece had placed around her pillow the night before, surrounding her “lost” tooth with books and a water bottle, one arm flung up over her head and curved around the pillow’s final edge. A tooth fairy test? None of us could be sure, but we consulted and agreed that fairies could move books – not all the way from the top bunk to the floor perhaps, but just enough to get the job done.

* * *

There is a small bird in the morning, a swallowtail, whose wings barely lift him from the sand.  My friend (this same friend) and our niece (this same niece) fill a swimming mask with water for the bird to drink, offer bits of apple which the bird nibbles, and without actually touching the bird, carry him to a nest along the side of a sandy grass cliff. From there, he flies and flaps and makes it – close to the ground, with many stops and starts – quite a way down the beach, where six or seven or eight birds swoop down and fly up, again and again, encouraging this small bird whose wings do not yet carry him up, the whole flock teaching him to fly.

* * *

Balance, birds, Hobbits and lost teeth. Saving one new shoe.

If each of us were to write this story – and maybe this is a good idea – it would come out differently, each of us with a different vantage point, a different voice, emphasizing different things. For me, the point is – We are none of us in this world alone.

We are waves.

We are birds.

We are flames.

We are sand.

We are none of us in this world alone.


Photo Credit: jen9erv on Photobucket


2 Responses to “Fire on the Beach”

  1. Ur mom July 22, 2012 at 2:03 am #

    wow! that part about the swallowtail — how did u even know that?

    • rrp69 July 23, 2012 at 12:22 pm #

      I didn’t, until the drama unfolded on the beach and my friend Susanne began narrating for the kids! That’s when I lifted my sleepy head off the beach towel and began to take heed. So amazing to see the birds swoop down again and again, and such a perfect close to a beautiful lake house week with good friends.

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