It’s starting. As I look out my window on Azores beach, I see them. The people have arrived. Just a few more each day, they’re venturing out of the winter blues and the short lived but pollen filled spring to plant their toes in the sand and their hearts near the sea. Beach passes are being sold in the center of town; I’m already in possession of two. The trucks have arrived. The bright green sand flattener guy rolls by each morning flattening the work of the tide from the night before.
Now come the scooper trucks. Bright yellow in hue, they are here too. Starting to build the sand dunes that should halt destruction if the ocean surges again as she did in October of 2012, they build. They beep as they back up heading to pick up more sand to put in its protective place.
When they finish, in a few days, they’ll be on to their regular work. This week each year they show up ready to build the giant mounds of sand for those bright orange lifeguard stands whose sight marks time for so many who live in this seaside community. The trucks come first. We know it’s getting close. Even the seagulls seem to be a bit more spritely knowing soon that the blue rubbish bins will be placed on the sand and hopeful that they’ll be filled with goodies to fill their rumbly tummies from a long hungry winter.
By next week, we’ll see them. They’ll arrive on the sand in all their bright orange glory just waiting. People will snap pictures and clamor atop just to feel the metal beneath their feet. For years, lifeguard stands have symbolized summer in Long Beach. In just days after their arrival the city will explode with summer fun. Booths will be filled with teenagers ready to click beach passes for countless beach-goers just waiting to feel that special sand between their toes. The flags will be delivered by ATVs and beach patrol trucks will make those first tracks in the sand checking on beach life. Lifeguards laden with first aid boxes, rescue cans and sustenance for the day will trudge through the sand and take their much awaited spot atop that sparkling chair for the first of many days this season.
The snack stands will open, the food trucks will arrive and people will flock to the ocean as this city by the sea lets out a collective long winter sigh knowing that its time to shine is here. Those of us who live here year ‘round are blessed with the salty sea air and access to the boardwalk and the beach for 365 days a year. But it’s May and you can feel the city itching.
The beaches will soon be flooded with chairs, tents, surfers, frisbees and little ones taking their first jumps in the ocean’s waves. You can feel it. Even the sand and the sea are smiling knowing how close it all is. The first day is always special. That first taste of salt water as you get rolled in the hug of the waves, the first smell of sunscreen as you apply just to be careful and that first of many future days spent with friends relaxing with your toes in the sand-they’re all on the way. That first six o’clock closing whistle will mark the first of many beach days in the summer of 2014. The lifeguards will head home but they’ll be back to do it all again the next day. There’s more ice cream to be eaten, more barbecues to have, fireworks to see, outdoor movies to watch and boardwalk adventures to take. The magic of Long Beach is upon us.
Can you feel it? It’s coming.