Thanks to Greg Gaudette of Albuquerque, N.M., for sharing a descriptive essay written by his daughter, Heather Gaudette, for her sixth-grade class at St. Charles Elementary School in Albuquerque.
Her grandmother, Mary Gaudette, lives in Hilton Head Plantation, and Heather visits once or twice a year.
By Heather Gaudette
Ready, go! We are off, racing to see who can get to the car and put on the seat belt first. Driving around golf courses, wet soccer fields and modest homes, we can smell the hot, salty air as we get closer to the beach. We can almost taste that gritty sand at Dolphin Head on Hilton Head Island. It's our lucky day -- the beach sometimes has 20 people, but today it is too hot for some. The perfect parking spot is right in front of my grandma's car.
Throwing the door open, we make a dash to our first stop: the playground. But our mom calls us back, "Time to unpack, you guys." At least the beach chairs are not too heavy. My mom sits down to talk with others or with my grandmother, who has consented to come.
The playground loses its thrill; now it's time to go to the beach part. I am always the first to touch the sand with my now-bare feet. Ouch, it is particularly hot today. I throw on my sandals so I can still be first. Crashing through reeds that the water washed up, I make a rush to the waves. A "no" screeches me to a halt. Man, do I hate sunscreen. It's a waste of time. It feels like forever to get that lotion on, but finally it's on and I am ready to go exploring. Like always, my mom decides that we have to find a shady spot. We find one.
The white foam comes onto the beach, and I race through it. I take a wrong step on a pearly seashell and then it's enough of running. No matter how much sand gets in my hair, I never learn the lesson that it makes bird nests there. All my brother does is sit in the sand and play. I start getting grumpy and decide it's time to eat. Tuna, yuck; but anything tastes good when you're on the beach. I turn around and look behind me; the marsh stretches farther than I can see. The fence is the only thing separating us, but sand spurs still come out only so far. When I was younger, I walked on those spurs. Man, did they hurt. It took my mom a long time to get them out.
The waves sometimes have an attitude -- like when you think the waves are puny, then a big one comes and it swallows you up. The Bluff (as it is sometimes called) is known for its sharks. That is why I cannot go too far from the shore.
On some days, the foam that is left over from the waves builds up into mounds. Other times, you hardly see it because it evaporates so fast. My brother and I sometimes have a chance to see the big horseshoe crabs fight for the girls. Banging around and bumping, they fight in slow motion, and when breeding season is over, they get stuck on the hot sand. We always put them back in the water, though.
The sun starts to set and we take a walk on the far, far end of the beach. Boats were once bobbing, but now they have left. The sea is empty.
The once-hot sand is now cold. The beach is now full of people strolling in the mild climate. Dogs race for the fun of it. We walk on the firm sand so as not to sink. Palmetto trees rock back and forth, never losing a beat. We turn around, walk back and gather our wet and gritty things. My shirt sticks to my back with a sodden grip. We climb the velvet sand, jump over the rough reeds, and fight through the furry trees. All is quiet.
I race to have a couple of minutes to swing or climb. I choose to swing. As my mom pushes me back and forth, I feel the thrill of the salty cool air and, for one last time, watch the sunset on the blue water.
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