My wife and I recently returned from our annual week at the beach. For four decades, we’ve gone to Kill Devil Hills, NC, site of the first air flights in 1903. At the start, we happened upon the Cavalier Motel — now called Cavalier by the Sea — on the beach road at mile post 8.5, and it has become “our place at the beach.” With the kids, we always went during their spring break. After it was just the two of us again, we shifted to fall.
We get an ocean-front room with kitchen. Until a tall building went up next door a few years ago, we could see the Wright Brothers monument out the back window. We share a porch with the other six rooms (two others with kitchens) in the same building. There is an identical building next to us. Depending on the weather, we sit on the beach, the porch or inside, looking at the ocean through our picture window.
This year, I made a few notes and will share them here.
–One day, as I tried to imagine the back story of many of the people walking by, I wondered if other people have similar thoughts while people-watching at the beach. Then I wondered if they ever don’t have such thoughts.
I posed these questions on Facebook: “When you sit on the beach, watching people walk by, do you ever try to imagine their backstories? Do you ever not do this?”
The first two responses led me to realize the questions would best be directed at people with active imaginations, such as writers and story tellers. I ran them by two friends who are bona fide fiction writers. Both said they also sometimes create in their minds stories for people they observe.
–Walking on the beach into a strong wind, bundled up, slipping around in loose sand is a workout. Walking the same beach barefooted and in shirt sleeves, on the terra relatively firma uncovered at low tide is a delightful stroll.
–As always, there were a few kids dipping their feet in the November surf. On one walk, we passed two pre-teen girls doing so. The one with long legs executed a pirouette each time a wave hit her feet and ankles.
–And the dogs are always a delight. You can see them smile as they jump over or into the waves. Golden Retrievers never encounter a person who isn’t their best friend. We also saw one little dog that appeared to about the same dimension in three directions.
–I watched two people in wet suits take their surf boards out into the water to wait hopefully for a wave to ride. I mention this merely to use the word “hopefully” correctly.
–There were two groups of friends there this year while we were. I had two reactions. One was some envy because there have been past years in which we had a group of friends with us. The second was wondering if each group had been in a bubble prior to arriving. They didn’t practice social distancing and no one ever wore a mask.
–One guy was there for a couple of days, one room away from us. He began each day with a cigarette or three, sitting on the porch with a “No Smoking” sign staring him in the face. I wondered how he felt about law and order.
–One afternoon, there were four and twenty black birds, plus quite a few more, on the beach. You usually see just a few here and there among the more numerous seagulls. I don’t know if they were local or just passing through, but when they left altogether, they flew south.
–I took a lot of photos and posted some on Facebook, noting the location. Soon my phone would ask, “How was Cavalier by the Sea?” Was. Past tense. If the phone is so smart, why didn’t it know I was still there?
A year ago, I shared photos of sunrises from the 2019 trip.