I saw this at BeachMama's. I don't know if she intended it to be a meme, but I could not resist.
Ten Things that Remind me of the Beach
These are all childhood memories of the crowded beaches at the Jersey shore. We used to go there every August to visit my grandmother and aunt. A week at the beach was a novelty, since we spent the rest of the summer swimming in the marsh or off rock ledges. I’ve been to many other beaches since, but I guess those early impressions are the ones that stick.
1. The smell of Coppertone suntan lotion. When I was a kid, no one in regular life used sunscreen (had it been invented yet?), but the tanned bodies of people around us at the beach were slathered with Coppertone. We all thought sun tan oil was something glamorous, invented so that in the movies hot male actors could rub their hands suggestively over women’s bodies.
2. The way the inside of a car smells on a very hot day. My parents' driveway was shaded, and they parked in the shade wherever they went. But when we went down to the shore, the parking lots were in the direct summer sun. The seats of the car would be so hot that we would have to put towels down before we could sit on them. We would roll the windows down so before even getting into the car. (Air conditioning hadn't been invented yet either.)
3. The smell of salty wind. I can remember that on our first trip of the season over to the ocean, my father would say, "Roll down the windows! Can you smell that great salty smell?"
4. Root beer. We would be driving from my grandmother's house to the beach on a dreadfully hot day, and the bridge we had to cross to get to the beach was a drawbridge. When the drawbridge opened to let boats go safely through, traffic would back up for miles. We'd be all sweltering in the hot car, a whole bunch of us kids crammed into the airless back of a station wagon, and we'd look out the window at this restaurant where people were sitting outside in the shade drinking icy glass mugs of root beer. You could even see the condensation on the glasses. Nothing ever looked so good.
6. Airplanes that pull words across the sky. Small airplanes would fly by the crowded beach, pulling a one-sentence ad. I was always fascinated by the strings of letters, and I'd sound them out until I could read what they said. One time, I had a lot of trouble (I was pretty young) until my aunt pointed out that they were all backwards. The plane looped around, and then I could read them. I still have this idea that I'd like to write a poem that could be performed by several small air planes. Wouldn't that be cool?
7. The smell of straw. I don't know if they even make them any more, but my grandmother and aunt had these straw mats that they always used at the beach. The advantage to the straw mats, which were not as soft as towels, is that sand just shook right off them.
8. Sun hats. You don't see many sun hats where I'm from. We have trees, lots of shade, and many overcast days. But I can remember that down the shore, many women wore sunhats at the beach – big and floppy or wide-rimmed. Whenever I see an old-fashioned hat like that, it reminds me of the fair-skinned Irish women in my mother's family, who wore hats even as they stood at the water’s edge in bathing suits.
9. Beach umbrellas. Big, colorful umbrellas that would make a small patch of shade. No one uses them here, on small beaches on lakes or rivers, and certainly not on the islands of solid rock where we swim up at camp, but down the shore, they were everywhere. I always memorized the umbrellas nearest to me when I was a kid, because I needed to take my glasses off to swim, and the bright colors of the umbrellas were the only way I could find my way back to the right clump of towels and blurry shapes that were bodies. Sometimes while I was swimming, some family near us would pack up their umbrella and go home, and I would be left wandering around in a blur, unable to find my family until someone would notice me stumbling about and come rescue me.
10. Kites. I come from a place where trees and powerlines make kite flying difficult. But at the beach, all kinds of gorgeous and colorful kites would be zooming about above our heads. It's hard not to feel happy when you are flying a kite.