The beach. The sand. The waves. The sea breeze. The “Eiffel Tower of Brooklyn” in the background. What’s that, you say? You thought we were on an idyllic beach somewhere tucked away in the warm cozy corners of the Eastern Caribbean? No way! Not when we’ve got Brighton Beach and the Coney Island boardwalk just a 25 minute drive away from our home, or about 10 minutes more by train! What family would choose to spend thousands of dollars on airfare & lodging, only to risk the unpredictability of hotel availability and cleanliness, as well as flight delays? All in the name of having a vacation? Well, let’s rethink this. We all would. But this lovely Summer of 2014 has us creating new adventures. The kind you make when you buckle down and stretch the dollars that you have, by taking a good ol’ staycation! By the looks of it, we made a great choice of places to visit.
The beautiful borough of Brooklyn is urban, yet it has its fair share of natural vistas too. So far we have gone to the beach 3 times in 4 days. It seems a bit wild to think that I would get my two children up early and then take them to the beach before bringing them to preschool, right? If we were in the Caribbean, it would make perfect sense for me to want to go to the beach in the morning, as early as 5am, just to take a “dip” and go for a walk along the shore. But who does that in NY? Even though Coney Island has tons of full-time residents, who can go to the beach anytime, day or night, most folks would rather go elsewhere. Is it the bad press it garnered in the 80s when the news routinely showed footage of used syringes washing up on shore, a constant reminder to “stay out of the water”? As a child growing up then, I was creeped out and on high alert anytime I went near Brighton Beach or Coney Island. Thankfully our family frequented Riis beach, where the biggest danger was those millions of crushed up shells underfoot. You know the ones that always seemed to jab our feet, as we landed after trying to jump higher than the crashing waves? But I digress.
Brighton Beach is looking really good these days. The sand is clean. The crime seems relatively low, as I left my beach bag on the sand and took a walk twice without anyone stealing it (all they would have gotten was sand and some towels). And there’s even a humongous “blue carpet” rolled out, a welcome mat of sorts, which makes it easier to traverse the sand from the boardwalk straight down to the shore. Plus, my children like it.
My daughter, or as I call her “my waterbaby”, has no preference for one body of water over another, as long as it is wet. The temperature doesn’t daunt her, she just wants to splash in it and giggle while doing so. My son on the other hand, is a man of the sand. He explained to me in the most thoughtful tone that a 3-year-old can muster, “I just don’t like the fact that it’s moving, Emah.” I get that. He’s cool in a pool, but that gigantic monster of an ocean waiting to swallow him up whole, not so much. Yet with the beach in such close proximity to our home, today on visit #3 to Brighton, he actually took a walk with his sister and I into the water. Let me not leave out my mother, the best grandmother ever, who held my son’s hand on their Monday morning walk on the sand. She had the patience of someone who has seen a few scared children in her day, and knows by now that only time and exposure will turn the tide from fear to confidence. Although she would much rather have walked on the firm boardwalk or on the nice cool, hard sand by the water’s edge, she trudged along with no complaint. In fact, this 50-year Brooklyn resident thanked me for showing her that she could vary her Prospect Park walking routine, with its curves and hills, augmented by cars driving past, and bikers getting a bit too close. She vowed to go back to the beach with her walking partner, maybe even without the rest of us in tow. Day 4 of this staycation has me looking at how many things we can do in our borough and our town before the swift approach of September, and the preparation for the High Holy Days that we will celebrate to honor our faith. It will be time to buckle down again, this time to reflect on the year that has passed, and whether or not we grew in the right directions. I am immensely grateful for the beauty of the ocean that we are blessed to be experiencing lately. My prayer is that wherever you are, you get to enjoy some of it too. If you are landlocked, try pouring some sea salt into your tub and having a cool pool bath. Forget about looking silly. Get out of your head and into something fun. And take the family on your own staycation. You’ll thank me for it later! Please post comments on the fun you had on your staycation in the reply area below. You can also upload some pics from your staycation to the Oasis Thinking page on Facebook. Until next time, take care, and may you be blessed by The Best!