Beach adventures and sea mist

Beach adventures and sea mist

Growing up near the beach

Beach adventures were a big part of my childhood. I spent many long days swimming, sunbaking and exploring with friends and siblings at the beach no more than 500 metres from home. Generally, the instruction was to be home by tea time so, on our long summer holidays, we could spend as much time on the beach as we liked.

It wasn’t the most beautiful of beaches. The sand was coarse and yellow and the shore rocky in places. The water was often filled with jellyfish and seaweed. The narrow beach was edged by tall red cliffs which prompted Captain James Cook to name the area Redcliffe when he passed by in 1770. But we loved it anyway.

There were huge cotton trees, as perfect for climbing as the red cliffs were for scaling, and a playground with swings and slides, many of which are no longer considered child-safe. But we survived.

We’d explore the rocks for sea life, avoiding the jellyfish and seaweed as best we could, both in and out of the water. We’d play in the water and on the sand and lie on our towels talking, laughing and dreaming of whatever we did as children back then.

Sun safety

It may sound idyllic and perhaps it was, though to us, it just was. Most of us are now paying for those long days at the beach with sun damaged skin. If anyone was aware of the dangers of being too long in the sun back then, we certainly weren’t. We considered a bad dose of sunburn as nothing more than inconvenient and we took turns to peel layers of skin off each other’s backs when the blisters burst.

Nowadays, my beach adventures are mostly confined to observations of sparkling white sands and perfect blue water from a shady deck with a cool drink in hand. However, I may venture out for a stroll in the late afternoon when the sun’s light has dimmed, leaving the water and sky to meet and greet in shades of pink and lilac.

Our Australian culture has a love-hate relationship with the beach and sunshine. At the first hint of warm summer weather, we’ll be told it’s a great day for the beach and we’ll be presented with images of beaches crowded with sunbathers. On another occasion, we’ll be advised to stay out of the sun and avoid the damage to our skin. Queensland is, after all, the skin cancer capital of the world. I’ve never figured out why we don’t get a more sensible approach that combines enjoyment with safety.

But let’s not dwell too long on the negatives. Hopefully now with better education and the availability of protective products, the younger generation will not be so nonchalant about time spent in the sun.

A beach excursion

A beach excursion, whether with school or family, presents as many opportunities for learning as it does for fun. There are phenomena to inspire wonder and stimulate curiosity, and countless questions to ask and answers to discover; for example,

Ten beach-inspired questions

  • What makes the waves?
  • Why does the tide come in and out?
  • How is sand made?
  • Where do the shells come from?
  • Why does the sand squeak when we walk on it?
  • What lives in the ocean?
  • Why should we take our rubbish home with us or put it in a bin?
  • How do fish breathe?
  • What made these tracks on the sand?
  • My sandcastle was here this morning. What happened to it?

Some answers can be discovered through investigation and exploration at the beach. Others require research.

Three fun beach activities that involve learning

Shells are not only fun to collect, they are great for sorting and counting, measuring and making, creating patterns and trading.

Fish might be fun to catch (for some); but they can also be identified, measured and weighed. Children can research the different types of fish and regulations for catching them.

Photographs provide a great record of beach adventures. Children can be encouraged to compile them and write a recount or report about the outing.

And of course, there are always wonderful books to read about the beach; such as:

Ten beach or ocean themed picture books

The Magic Beach by Alison Lester

Where the Forest Meets the Sea by Jeannie Baker

Circle by Jeannie Baker

The Hidden Forest by Jeannie Baker

The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister

Mister Seahorse by Eric Carle

One Less Fish by Kim Michelle Toft

Coral Sea Dreaming by Kim Michelle Toft

Neptune’s Nursery by Kim Michelle Toft

Swimmy by Leo Lionni

Beach-inspired flash fiction

Charli Mills's flash fiction challenge at the Carrot Ranch

I was taken back to the beach this week by the challenge set by Charli Mills at the Carrot Ranch to  In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about sea mist. How does it create an environment for a story? It can set the stage or take the stage. Go where the prompt leads.

This is my response. I hope you like it.

Canned Sea Mist

No more than a hint of sea spray and she was flown back on wings of joy to carefree childhood days frolicking in the shallows, basking on golden sands, fossicking for hints of life in rockpools and amassing precious collections of shells and other treasures arranged for her pleasure by the tide. Lulled by a gentle breeze and waves whispering a heart’s rhythm, she dozed, uninterrupted by seagulls squawking, murmured conversations, hushed laughter, or the shuffle of approaching and receding footsteps. As the sun glowed bright above, she sighed her last, now and forever one with the sea’s mist.

Thank you blog post

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.

46 thoughts on “Beach adventures and sea mist

  1. Jennie

    I was pulled into the the beach, and the lull of waves and sounds of gulls. This was delightful, a trip to the beach with many memories. Well done flash fiction! And an excellent choice of books! I dearly love Swimmy by Leo Lionni. Thank you for a wonderful post, Norah!

    Liked by 1 person

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  2. Charli Mills

    Buckaroos always wore long-sleeved shirts, jeans, and straw hats to protect from the sun, but I still managed to get sunburned swimming in the creek. Your flash is lovely and refreshing, like sea mist. It’s a break from the more serious nature of skin cancer associated with beach time now. Nice connection to lessons, too!

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    1. Norah Post author

      Buckaroos were sensible – until they went swimming! 🙂
      I’m pleased you enjoyed the flash and found it refreshing. Couldn’t dwell on the sun cancer for too long. 🙂

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  3. robbiesinspiration

    We also have a big beach culture here, Norah. I spent a large part of my childhood in the same manner as you have described. I have also had sun damage which has required harsh treatment. I have tried hard with my own kids but the teachers are still so ignorant (or uncaring) about this problem and they occasionally get sun burned at school. People with dark skins also get skin cancer and sun damage.

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    1. Norah Post author

      It can feel so pleasant in the water or enjoying a cool sea breeze, that we don’t realise just how hot the sun is, and so the damage is done. I’m sorry that you also have suffered severe skin damage, Robbie.
      It’s interesting what you say about the teachers. Many schools here have a ‘no hat no play’ policy, which is excellent I think. Some also have sun screen available for children to apply, and sun safety is always promoted. However, it is generally considered a parent’s responsibility, I think. I was always very careful with my own children’s skin and am pleased to say that neither have as much damage as I have, but both are still fair – just not as fair as I am. The day that my daughter was born, my son (12 years at the time) had a swimming carnival at school. When he came up to the hospital to visit us, I just wanted to cry. He hadn’t applied sun screen and was burnt quite badly – the worst he had ever been. I think he learned to take more responsibility after that.

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      1. robbiesinspiration

        The no hat no play policy only applies until the children are about 8 years old. My issue is that the children are expected to sit in the hot sun for hours for galas and there is no shade for them. Even if you apply the sun screen the water and sweat washes it off. There is no opportunity to re-apply it for the children and the teachers don’t remind them and make time for this. There should be shade clothes for the children to sit under and sun screen available. It makes me a bit cross.

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        1. Norah Post author

          The policy here applies throughout primary school, until age 11 – 12. I’m not sure about high school. It is those big events that are the problem, I agree. While my most recent school provided marquees for children to wait under, they were still out in the sun competing. I think it’s going to be a long time before things change a lot. I share your annoyance. We really should take more care of our bodies’ biggest organ – our skin.

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  4. susanzutautas

    As a child, I would spend quite a bit of time at the seashore. I loved it. Now I’m fortunate to live by two lakes that are close by. Enjoyed your flash.

    Liked by 1 person

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  5. Jacqui Murray

    Wonderful tie-ins for kids, Norah. I can even see a ‘virtual beach trip’ with a sound file and a 360 Google adventure.

    I remember visiting a beach in the old Soviet Union. I couldn’t believe it was so popular with its gravelly grey-brown sand, so unlike my pristine white granules. It is all what we get used to.

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    1. Norah Post author

      A virtual beach trip would be fun, Jacqui. Particularly for those who don’t have easy access to a real beach. I loved taking my class on excursions to the beach. They always had a lot of fun learning.
      It is what we get used to. I’ve seen photos of ‘beaches’ that are really just covered in rocks and pebbles and there are oodles of people in beach chairs sitting on them. It’s an alien concept to me.

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  6. Susan Scott

    Sitting with cool drink in the shade and looking out at sea and sand is my idea of bliss Norah. I floated along with your flash and felt mist-like – so refreshing thank you! The ideas for children and how to extra enjoy all things beach and sea are lovely!

    I too spent many of my growing years at the sea and used olive oil on my face and body as a teenager so as not to dry out and for some sort of protection. And brown I turned in a flash. Luckily I have an olive skin, unlike my sister who is very fair. But for many years now I have not used face block or sun cream though most of my family and friends do. I am alarmed at the possibility that the creams spoil the sea and its creatures – there is some evidence to support this. I spend a lot of time in the sun and more lately since we’re now living at the sea (still to fully re-locate; back to Johannesburg in the next few days before retuning again to the sea end Feb early March) … but I certainly wouldn’t be out in the full sun for any length of time.

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    1. Norah Post author

      I’m pleased you found the tone of my story to be peaceful, Susan. That was my intention. 🙂
      You are so lucky to have olive skin. I am very fair and have to be very careful in the sun. I can’t imagine using olive oil, and although coconut oil was popular here, I didn’t use it either. I used to (and still do) love the smell of coconut oil.
      The creams are a concern for our seas, especially for the coral reefs. However, I saw a headline the other day that I think said it is not the concern we once thought. I haven’t read the article yet – it’s still in my inbox, I hope. I’ll post it here if I find it. I hope the article is stating what I think. 🙂
      Enjoy your beach change. It sounds like a very pleasant lifestyle. 🙂

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      Reply
  7. Hugh's Views and News

    Such essential lessons about sun-safety in your post, Norah. I remember the days of getting badly sunburnt and suffering for many days after, yet my parents still encouraged me to go out and play while the sun shone. Now, 50+ years later, the sun sends me indoors or into deep shade. Who would have thought that my doctor still insists that I wear factor 50 face cream when the sun shines in the middle of a British winter?

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      1. Hugh's Views and News

        For us with fair skin, it can still burn, Norah. When I’ve forgotten to put a moisturiser on my face (that has at least a sun protection factor of at least 15) on a sunny winter’s day, my face still burns. People I may not have seen for a few weeks sometimes ask if I’ve been away on holiday because of the sunburnt face. I was advised to even apply it on cloudy days, so now it’s applied every day.

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  8. Patricia Tilton

    Your story and warms me as I think about our recent blizzard weather. Beautifully written. Would love to be near the sea right now. How carefree we were as children — I didn’t have a beach but a river. Children today don’t know what it was like to have the freedom to explore and play with friends. Our parents set the rules and trusted us to abide by them. I got those sunburns by the swimming pool, where I’d spend all day with friends. Thank you for sharing such lovely memories as it triggers many of mine.:)

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thank you, Patricia. Yes, our childhoods were very different from the childhoods of today, weren’t they? There’s not so much outdoor exploration, unless organised, now, and they have lots more technology. We didn’t even have a television for most of my childhood. 🙂

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  9. thecontentedcrafter

    Entertaining and interesting as ever Norah. You raise some good questions about safety under our hot sun and also with the ideas for education point to further ways to explore the days activities with the little ones. Your gentle flash describes just the way I would quite like to go – though please, you must change ‘dosed’ to ‘dozed’ for the full impact to hit us 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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    1. Norah Post author

      Oh my, Pauline. How could I have let that one slip by. I must have been dosing. 🙂 Thanks for catching it. Thank you for your lovely comment. It would be nice to go in such a gentle way.

      Liked by 1 person

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thank you for your lovely comment, Chelsea. I guess sea mist comes in many varieties.
      Fossicking is an Australian word, usually referring to digging around looking for minerals or other gems. More recreational than professional.

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  10. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    Oh my. A long day at the beach. I especially liked the waves whispering a heart’s rhythm. This is very descriptive and had me mucking about in the shallows and tidal pools too, though on rockier shores of my childhood. (Not using figurative language or metaphor there; the beaches I knew as a kid were rocky mostly- Maine and south east Alaska). But we all enjoyed them as kids do. So what a way for this character to go. Full circle happy.

    Liked by 1 person

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thanks, D. I’m so pleased you enjoyed the piece, and that you found some peace in it as well. Yep, a full circle. That scented sea mist spray works wonders. 🙂

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