Beach Challenge Checkpoint 1: Van Wagner’s Beach

I could have gone to cadet field training to help make dinner or help with canteen. If it went well, it would have been a good experience that recharged me. But if it didn’t go well, the above-average anxiety week would have spilled over into the next week. I know that Mother’s Day was going to be difficult because Child is consumed with all the things in his life, so he forgets. I know there would be no delightful Mother’s Day surprise for me. I decided to bail on the field training, and took a Saturday afternoon at the beach. A gift from me, to me.

While I want there to be more than just my default trip to Hamilton beaches for this challenge, I also know that Van Wagner’s doesn’t disappoint. Sometimes I want adventure, sometimes I want reliable comfortable Old Faithful. I parked at the Lakeview and walked toward Burlington. To make this seem less like the default, I walked further than I have before.

There’s been rough weather in Southern Ontario lately, and it’s taken a toll on the beach. There’s a shocking amount of erosion at the path-side of the beach, and the water is higher than I’ve ever seen it. The tide and weather has changed the geography of the waterline. Sand and gravel have been pushed ashore to the point where there’s a high not-dune-exactly-but-kinda at the shore. The quarried rock breakwalls are completely surrounded by water, where they used to be only partially in the water. The sand in several places is saturated to the point that you sink in, and there are tide pools beyond the not-dunes. It’s a very different beach than I’m used to visiting. Maybe some of the geography changes are also from the heavy machinery down there to mitigate the cliff erosion. Maybe this is the new normal.

I walk pretty slowly at water’s edge to scan for glass and other curiosities. This walk did not disappoint, on that front. There was a driftwood teepee that someone built a while back that was blown over in the wind, but another one is being erected further down the beach. By the accident of sitting on the vestiges of some cement stairs, I found a metal flower. Further along, there was a discarded pink rubber switch that, laying in the sand, looked like a Barbie shoe (yaknow, if Barbie wore practical shoes). On the way back, I found a big blue marble, which I rolled around in my hand trying to decide if it was plastic or glass. The sun was too low in the sky for me to check the translucency, so after holding it in my hand debating for a bit, I left it. There were other treasures for me. Like a sizeable piece of turquoise glass, and a piece of yellow/orange glass. The shape of the yellow piece was irregular, so I wasn’t sure if it was a rock or glass (Mike says glass, to my delight, and my mom confirms). There was also a pretty big piece of pink depression glass and a few pieces of pottery that weren’t quite fully rounded and transformed, but most of the glass this time was jewelry-grade. Not that jewelry-grade matters to me.

The unexpected landscape made it more difficult to shed my un-ease, so it was a good decision to travel away from the more heavily damaged areas. The waves were significant, and I played chicken with the surf a few times. Sometimes I won. Sometimes, the waves did. I love the game, though, and the sound of waves breaking and ebbing was helpful in the recharge effort.  I spent almost 4 hours by the water on this visit.

This trip wasn’t as effective as usual. Likely because I still struggle with self-imposed obligation. But it was still worth going, and being able to challenge myself to choose self-care over obligation is significant in my world.

Congratulations, self. This was a big step. Now, to develop that muscle memory

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