It happens most every spring, but this time it was the tail end of a hefty Nor’ Easter with 50 mile per-hour gusts. The beach near where we lived was a place my 12-year old daughter and I walked almost every day but, truth to tell, I wasn’t sure it was safe to go out anywhere this particular afternoon. The sun peeked in and out of racing clouds, and trees were tousled and bent in the stiff breezes. It looked like it might rain again. She peered out the window and then turned to me with a Cheshire Cat grin on her face.
“I got a great idea, mom,” she said conspiratorially. “Stay there!” She ran upstairs and came back in a few minutes with a sheet tucked under her arm, one of sheets with a high thread-count we kept in the linen closet. One of my nice sheets! “We need a tight weave, mom,” she said, reading my mind. “Otherwise we won’t be able to fly.” Fly? I thought. Gulp!
But, as they say, nothing ventured, nothing gained, so off to the beach we went, a wide wonderful beach near Cape Cod. The huge waves rolled in and hurled themselves on the sand, spraying water high over neighboring jetties. The clouds darkened, and we could feel dampness in the air still. I was still nervous. What if we get blown out to sea? What if we fall and really hurt ourselves?
“How did you come up with this goofy idea?” I asked. She laughed and said she had tried it with one of her friends once and it was such fun she wanted to try it with me. “Don’t be afraid!” she scolded, noting the wind was a good deal stronger than her first foray. “It’ll be great,” she laughed again. I took a deep breath. With a shiver in my belly, I was game.
“Now you grab two corners, and I’ll do the same,” she yelled over the wind. She grinned encouragement to me as we unfurled the sheet. We held it as tight as possible between us, as we kind of crab-walked down the beach. The sheet became a sail filled with air, and in no time the crab-walking turned into crab-leaping. Soon we went vaulting down the beach, sometimes falling but always getting up and trying again. It was a hoot! I laughed ‘til my sides hurt and so did she. A few other brave souls had ventured on the beach to watch the waves. We could see some of them pointing and laughing, which only encouraged us all the more.
Finally after about an hour or so, we shook the sheet off, de-sanded ourselves as best we could, and breathless from the fun and exertion, headed toward the car. While we sat and tried to slow our breathing, my daughter turned to me and said, “That was the bravest and fun-est thing we’ve ever done together!”
“I couldn’t agree more,” I panted. I still hadn’t caught my breath. “It felt like flying, didn’t it?”
“Yes, it did,” she agreed. “I was a little afraid at times too. That wind was strong!”
“Sometimes it’s fun to do something a little bit scary just to test ourselves,” I offered.
“You’re right, mom,” she said. “That’s why I like scary movies, too.”
“Not me!” I grimaced. “Sheet-sailing down the beach is just scary enough for me!”
After that episode, we went as often as we could, picking those windy days and sometimes inviting friends to join us, which only added to the fun. It is one of the best and most vivid memories ever for the two of us. And it cost nothing but time and laughter. Oh . . . and one high thread-count sheet.