“Walk barefoot along the beach, hear waves crashing on the shore, sink your toes in the warm sand…watch beautiful sunsets and be captivated by life.”
– T-shirt from the Island Market
The week of Labor Day weekend, we went to Sunset Beach with some close friends.
In addition to going out to eat fresh fish, we usually stock up with food from a local grocery store. But after several days, we realized we didn’t have anything left for lunch. So my friend Jennie and I rode half a mile to the Island Market, a pleasant little store on the main road into the beach, just a stone’s throw from the pier.
The market is part grocery store, part beachwear, part wine shop and part drug store. They also have a wonderful take-out deli. (And, I’ll add, once when I put quarters in the newspaper box and the machine ate all the coins, the cashier at the market loaned me the money to use in a different box.)
Meanwhile, as we were waiting for our sandwiches, Jennie noticed a blue T-shirt with the words “Love Life” on the front. Given my positive approach to life, she pointed it out and I bought it immediately. It wasn’t until later that I noticed there were words on the back – including those in the quote above.
We began our love of the beach when our children were small. We didn’t have much money, so we and some dear friends – whose children were the same ages as ours – split the rent on a house at Topsail Beach. We barely had enough money for the shared rent, so we declined the option of hiring a maid. Instead, Cynthia and I furiously scrubbed the sinks, bathrooms and the rest of the rental house before check out. (We were afraid we would get fined if it wasn’t 100% spic and span.) But it was all worth it, knowing we had such a delightful time watching our kids make sandcastles, find shells and play in the surf.
Today, at 24 and 21, our children ride the waves instead of making sandcastles, but they still love the beach.
Thanks to an inheritance from my grandmother, we are fortunate to own a share of a beach house at Sunset Beach, south of Ocean Isle and north of Myrtle Beach. We can use the house up to 10 weeks year round, but given our busy schedules, many of those weeks go un-used.
I, for one, enjoy the off-seasons just as much as – if not more than – the summer months. We love taking walks down the beach, riding bicycles around the island, and, when in season, hopefully get a chance to witness sea turtles hatching at night.
We often buy fresh fish from the local market and cook at home, but we also love finding other great restaurants. Two of our favorites are the Sugar Shack – a Jamaican-style restaurant – and Big Nell’s, one of those breakfast and lunch joints where the waitresses remember you season after season, year after year.
We occasionally visit Price’s Seafood in Calabash, where the fried seafood is good but the huge tree in front is the real attraction. Generations of children – including ours – have climbed its wide limbs, parents watching every minute. One evening a woman told us she missed not seeing her son in the tree; It turns out he was now 50.
While we love the water, as well as walking or riding bikes on the beach, our favorite place is the open porch facing the ocean. We relax on rocking chairs, watch the waves, read, do puzzles, and drink coffee or wine.
Since we share the beach house with others, we always put a few personal things out to make the place feel more like home. For instance, we display a photo of our children taken the first time we went to Sunset. We also put out a blue bottle on the living room coffee table and hang a windsock decorated with appliqué baseball bats on the rusted hook on the porch. (In case you don’t know, my husband is a baseball fanatic; the windsock was a Christmas gift one year.)
To me, the beach is life. The sand. The waves. The relaxation. The shrimp boats out at sea. And, of course, the sunset.
What better way to ‘Live Life to its Fullest?”
If you’d like to see some fabulous photos of Sunset Beach, please go to: http://www.flickr.com/photos/teppes and click on the box on the upper right-hand side.