Tuesday, August 04, 2009

The Beach Scene

We are just back from spending a few days at our second family base in St. Juan, Alicante. The weather has been as hot and clear as apparently it has been cold and wet in the U.K. Spain’s holiday month coincided with our flight home, but even so the expansive and daily cleaned beaches were already full of holiday makers, each group or couple plotting out their territory with towels spread out beneath protecting umbrellas, providing a modicum of shade. There were lots of families often with very small children building sand sculptures and sand pits, watching water disappearing through the sand, and then replenishing it, the process continuing until the next experiment.

I had an eye of course for older people, of whom there were many of all shapes and sizes. Any embarrassment of the signs of age were ignored as they joined the beach paseo, younger people presenting their near nakedness to the sun, joined by us older ones recalling our onetime youth only in imagination. Some of us like faded but proud hulks, hauling ourselves along amongst the walking splashing and chatting sun-lovers.

I noticed on older man being helped from the sea by two younger people, either side. He stopped to regain his breath and confidence, his supporters looking at him with concern, as then he smiled and together the three of them walked slowly to the shore. There was a woman too I became aware of, mahogany- brown, topless as so many others a third of her age, defiant of the years. Others as well, swollen with age, baring themselves to the beneficence of the sun. More cautious than some I mostly sat in a chair, reading and sometimes observing the scene but feeling part of it, as our dear family did crazy things in the sea.

Much of this sense of freedom and the inclusiveness of the beach scene is the result of the Mediterranean climate no doubt, but it also reflects and is nourished by the family-based culture of Spanish people, which is so powerful. I could see that some families represented three or even four generations, a parable of how the very young and the very old can all be part of the same community. And should be.



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