At the end of last month, my husband and I took the long drive past Big City Like No Other, over several bridges, and out onto the Very Long Island to visit my sister, her husband, and their twin baby girls. The twins are four months old now, plump and smiling, laughing aloud if they hear the right funny noises.
My sister lives in a summer vacation spot, but on a cold fall day, most of the tourists were gone. When we took the babies for a walk on the beach, we wore winter coats. My sister carried one twin under her coat, and I took the other. The beach looked different without lifeguard chairs, umbrellas, or towels. But the ocean waves were just the same, crashing down onto the wet sand.
I love everything about walking on the beach: the smell of the salty air, the rhythm of the surf, the big sky that stretches forever, the softness of sand underfoot, and that realization that the ocean is so much bigger than I am. But the best part of the walk was carrying a warm baby under my coat, her little face just inches from mine. She kept looking right at me and smiling; it was clear that my new niece loves the ocean just as much as I do. How fun it's going to be when the twins are a little older and I can build sand castles with them.