It was one of those Fourth of July afternoons when thunderclouds scattered from town to town, beach to beach taunting would be revelers with foreboding over the fate of the evening fireworks displays. My family was at the coast that day, kids from 4-40, enjoying salt and sun followed by dinner at our favorite seafood joint. After filling ourselves with fried seafood and slaw we headed back to the beach.
Inland storms rumbled quiet, distant, among the sounds of the train a couple miles off and the whale of a siren. . . .somewhere. Waves lapped the shore and we walked and ran along the open expanse of beach revealed by the receding waves of tide and people. Summer sun hung low between distant clouds and the horizon as we ventured further down the beach, blown with the warm sea air like confetti, rolling, sticking, flying. Little sand angels, names carved enormous, stacks of stones, foot prints, seaguls and us, trailing along on a summer evening. The sound of the surf lulled us, all unaware as the rumble of storms and darkness crept manacingly closer.
Soothed by the sea, I was startled to look up to see an inky blackness, a gnarled hand, an arm stretched out reaching. . . "for what?" my mind thought. Right overhead! It felt monstrous as if it would snatch us up and pull us out to sea and we all ran. A dozen feet like drumfire over the packed sand. Thunder. Clouds rolled, black ropes reaching their tangled mass out to sea. Thunder. Wind whipped sand and people, running for cover. Thunder. We scrambled into relative safety of our van to ride out the storm. Thunder, Lightening, Truckloads of rain rolled right over us, while we waited and laughed, catching our breath.
After what seemed like hours, crowded in with a car full of kids hoping still for fireworks, we ventured back out tentatively with a few others who had huddled in the parking lot. That storm passed our stretch of beach leaving us for the sea. Another lingered out over the point at the north tip of the crescent. Our beach cradled inland began to fill, and soon all around us a circle of sparklers, roman candles, and fiery flowers lit up the beach for miles around. Out to sea now, one storm still flashed while storms to the north clattered, and danced with light as if joining our celebration of freedom.