Bet on the Beach

Initially published early September 2011

I returned to my favorite local beach last weekend to make sure it was still in tact after a mild earthquake, a near-historic hurricane, and a week of flooding rains hit. Yep. It was still there, its adjoining park freshly manicured, greener and more lush than during the dogged days of August. I watched a dozen children frolicking in the river.

“It feels good!” one boy of about eleven reported, welcoming his friend.

A butterfly fluttering by caught my attention and I considered that in a couple of weeks summer will end and the butterflies and other summer pleasures will be gone. I enjoyed this beach, Hillsmere Beach, a community beach located in Anne Arundel.

Swoosh…

The swoosh…swoosh of the river licking the shore, the tweets and intermittent squawks of the birds mingled with the children’s delight, sounding off a perfect concert bidding farewell to the season.

A boy, who appeared to be a pre-teen, rode up on his bike and was greeted with a dare by his friends. He had gone home to change into swim trunks, and returned ready to take on the river. He rode his bike to the rockiest edge, and his friends dared him to jump off the rocks.

I noticed a slimy film in one area and wondered how the children could have so much fun in such obviously filthy water. They were careless and carefree.  Watching them, I was reminded of the joys of youthful oblivion. They did not care about foul fish, possibly dead fish in the water or water snakes or dangerous sea creatures.

The boy on the bike looked over the rocks debating only how he would enter the water – off the rocks on off the smooth sands.

“We saw a jelly fish this big,” one of the friends said. The boy on the bike seemed undaunted.  “My sister will give you $25 if you jump in,” the friend added.

Privately, I bet the boy on the bike would take the dare. I was happy when he thought better of it. He parked his bike, pulled on his goggles and waded safely in off the sand.

After a rather stressful week in a new job, I felt refreshed just watching the children splash and swim and pull and tug on each other in the water. I wished the Anacostia River in my hometown, D.C., was clean enough to refresh a community. I can do more than wish for this, thanks to organizations currently working to clean and restore the Anacostia River. I can join – and invite you all to join – upcoming clean-up campaigns.

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