The beach is where the wild things are

All year I answer two questions again and again.
“When will it be Christmas?” and “When are we going to the beach?”

Well, we’ve been home from our annual trip for about 24 hours. And our boys—and their parents—are already talking about next year.

Our trip this summer was special because our group grew. Two of my sisters and I have been going every year since July 2010—Leo’s first summer in our family—but this year my parents also decided to rent a house, and the rest of my siblings and their families joined us.

Two houses full of 14 adults and 11 children, ranging in age from 10 months to 10 years, made for a fantastic week even before we hit the beach—and that experience may or may not require a blog post on its own. But hit the beach we did for digging and building and jumping and splashing and shell hunting and kite flying and more.

You see the world differently when you are surrounded by children, and this year I was surprised that we seemed to encounter so much wildlife.
There were the jellyfish that scared us out of the ocean a few times.
Photo by Treasa Matysek

Mostly they just gave the adults something to debate. Would this type of jellyfish really sting? Would it actually hurt? We never found out.
Photo by Treasa Matysek
Then there were the porpoises.


What? You can’t see them? Well, they were a bit camera shy. They kept diving out of view.
There were the turtles, of course.

And there were a few geese who joined the turtles on Daniel’s second visit there when he made a return trip with his cousins. The geese came quickly when they realized we had 10 children throwing bread and crackers into the water.
There were sand crabs…

Photo by Treasa Matysek
and Maryland blue crabs.

Our boys were really curious about the crabs, maybe because they know we eat them.

Leo got to touch a horseshoe crab, thanks to a knowledgeable man on the beach who gave the children a meet and greet with it.
Photo by Treasa Matysek
There were herons and pelicans, and one morning, after I had taken a very thirsty Daniel back to the house, the group even saw a skate swim past. As Daniel would say, “Mama, you missed it!”
And if you think a skate is exotic, check this out.

Photo by George Matysek

“It’s a slug, but it looks like a leopard,” Leo said.
I don’t remember ever encountering that much nature on a beach vacation, not counting my discovery under my bed at the beach house.
OK, so we didn’t run into any sharks or ride a terrifyingly fast roller coaster. But if that doesn’t sound like a wild week to you, just imagine putting six children to bed in the same bedroom every night for a week. Now that, my friends, makes for a wild and wonderful week.
What wildlife have you encountered on trips to the beach?

Catholic Review

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