|Evelia, The Gull Chaser|
The look in her eye is one of determination. She is serious and focused and she believes she can do it this time. She will catch that seagull. Slowly walking through the sand, gradually gaining speed, she begins her assault. As she draws closer, she can’t help but let out a scream of excitement and… Flap-flap! Away goes her prey. Disappointed momentarily, she then spots another unsuspecting gull on the beach. The stalking begins anew with the same result — Another hurried aerial escape by the elusive bird. My daughter, Evelia, who is 21 months old, has adopted this as one of her favorite things to do at the beach and it can go on for hours. I love every minute of it. I even help her facilitate the attack sometimes — I am positive, though, that we really don’t want to catch a seagull. I have tried my best to explain to her the inevitable consequences of grabbing a sea bird with our bare hands, and yet, she remains unwavering and dedicated to the cause.
I have spent the better part of my life either in the water or on it — I grew up swimming competitively which led to surf lifesaving and triathlons. I then moved on to professional guiding, specializing in sea kayaking instruction and multi-day expeditions. I now look for every opportunity to travel and explore new landscapes via the water. I love the water and in many ways it has defined my life. With that said, I haven’t always been able to enjoy the beach. As my wife can attest — I get antsy, very quickly. Sitting and relaxing at the beach is not something I am very adept at. To be surrounded by so much water and not start doing something more active is a real challenge for me. But I have noticed a shift this beach season. It’s a rebirth of sorts. I have started to see the beach through my youngest daughter’s eyes. And it’s amazing. Watching her scream and play in the surf — Chasing the retreating waves into the water and then quickly switching roles, running back to the safety of the sand away from the next round of incoming surf is fun to witness. It just makes me laugh. She is absolutely filled with life. New discoveries happen at every outing. Tide pools with starfish and scurrying crabs are always around the next rock and sea glass and shells are quick to catch her eye. And I know she loves the warm breeze blowing through her blonde hair. She loves it — It’s natural and pure. New experiences blend with the familiar, shaping her into the little person she is today. And eventually into the adult she is to become. It’s nice to take a step back and just watch. To try and see these familiar things — Soft sand, crashing surf, rocky cliffs and seaweed — As if it were for the first time, again. Maybe that’s what we need more of in this life, right? Sometimes it takes fresh eyes, a different perspective to see things clearly. And what better way to look at things than through the eyes of a child?