As I made my way to the beach with my group the other night just after 5pm, there was a cavalcade of happy beach goers laden down with various beach accoutrements trudging in the opposite direction of my arrival tide. They were sandy and ruddy from the sun and the good cheer of a day well spent at the beach. But they were leaving. Which is why I was arriving.
I am not a big fan of spending the day at the beach. I get why people do it, but I’d rather be doing something in the active category… biking, hiking, paddle boarding, yoga-ing, blogging, fishing, prepping lunch or planning dinner. But after an active day, an idyllic way to end it is to gather my group and go to the beach. There we can park it for wine and cheese or a bonfire with dinner. The sun is low, so it is a sunscreen and beach umbrella free situation. The light is spectacular and the beach/lake/park that was overloaded with humans during the day (proof that it is a sought out location) is virtually EMPTY!!! What is better than having a private piece of mother nature’s crowning achievement all to yourselves!!!?? Not much.
My friend Karen (who is LOVING her new book Before We Were Yours, if you were wondering) has the beach dinner set up, after a decade plus of practice, well honed. She loads her big old 4 wheel drive truck with boogie boards, shovels (cause kids can keep themselves busy for hours with shovels at the beach), chairs, a tin and wood for the bonfire, a wheelbarrow for transporting supplies and the MVP of the situation: the easy to assemble beach table.
The table is a game changer as it allows one to elevate the food from the sand; because no matter how good Herb’s Chicken is it will not benefit from a dusting of sand. Also the table is handy for a safe resting spot for your plastic glass of rose and the numerous dips your friends will inevitably bring with them. [Note to self: must acquire beach table.]
Beach table bonus – it provides another activity for the children. I admired how Karen’s youngest son dutifully assembled the table at the beginning of our gathering and then diligently broke it down at the end. Handy accessory AND a useful tool for teaching children how to add value (I am always on the hunt for lessons for my kids on HOW TO ADD VALUE to any situation).
Those simple props, a gaggle of friends who contribute food and drink and possibly firewood and s’mores supplies and one has themselves a transporting evening at the ocean. Given the awesomeness of the company it was easy to chat the night away and forget how fortunate we were to be perched in such a sublime setting.
I had to pull away from the group to look around and appreciate the absolutely perfect natural backdrop of our chosen location. After the sunset we began to pack up, loading everything back in the truck and or into a trash can. I went back for one last look. It was as if we had never been there – but we had – and I smiled grateful for the evening.
I am certain this same phenomena would occur at your favorite lake or local park. Try it out yourself! Even Central Park, what surely must be the busiest and most human filled park of any park( perhaps in the world?), will get substantially quieter after 5pm. It too could not be more stunning during these particular hours. Some friends and I were there one evening in June for an event and stayed afterwards to finish the food and sip some wine (if you look closely you will see 2 of the same faces from the beach gathering). We were not planning to stay so we had food, but no blankets, no chairs, and no table; but NO PROBLEM!
We were on this calm and peaceful expanse of greenery not 50 feet from 5th Avenue in the busiest, loudest, most populated city in the United States. As a group we observed how special the experience was and made a pledge to do this more often when we all re-convened from summer. And I am holding you guys to it! Grabbing my group and going to the beach after 5pm for now, but will definitely be grabbing a group and going to Central Park after 5pm in the fall. Join me!
I would love to know your favorite nature spots that might be worth visiting after 5pm. Emphasis on the word nature. I am well familiar with people’s favorite establishments at which to gather after 5pm. Let’s give new meaning to the term “it’s 5 o’clock somewhere”. Let’s make that somewhere be outside, with friends and family, enjoying each other and celebrating the special places in nature we are lucky to have. Deal!??