|All Together, Again
Richard L. Provencher
2002 by Richard L. Provencher
Shawn impatiently skipped pebbles taken from the Atlantic Ocean shore. Waiting for his cousins coming from their family reunion was difficult. Not his fault being the fastest runner in school got him here first.
"Were they coming or not?"
It was his idea, this hike. Usually people didn't listen to his suggestions. Today they did. Sometimes he was shy as a moth hiding under the eaves trough waiting for a chance to fly away. Sandy hair flopped loosely over his ears as he flung another flat stone across the water. This one made three skips. His new running shoes kicked at the sand.
Splashing waves were loud on Northumberland Strait.
"Hurry up," Shawn muttered looking up at the few dark clouds playing leapfrog across the sky. "Finally," he grinned, jumping to his feet, seeing Uncle Larry lead the remainder of the group from their campground. As usual Troy was running ahead. He always wanted to be first. Ha, not now.
Shawn's older brother Pete was with them, along with two cousins, Joan and William. Pete was going to Dalhousie University in Halifax next month.
"All right everybody," Uncle Larry said. "Now that we’re all together, let's take our time and look around. Maybe we can discover a little history by the seashore. No more running ahead, Shawn," he added.
The Trenholm family reunion was held again at Cape Spear near Port Elgin, New Brunswick. Relatives had come mostly from Nova Scotia, PEI, and Ontario. This hike was a chance for cousins to have a little fun. And besides, they needed a chance to escape from mushy hugs and kisses.
Overhead, the sky had changed and looked as if someone had painted it a dull blue. The wind began to huff noisily across the pebbly beach. This kept the group in a huddle, conversations all going at once.
"Uncle Larry, would you carry my sandals?" Joan asked. She was seven years old.
Shawn didn't like the way she tried to take over. It was his turn to get a little extra attention. And he disliked her competition. At school no one ever noticed him. But here, well...it was his turn.
"The magic word?" Uncle Larry asked.
"Please," she said, eyes rolling.
"Alright Joan. I'll carry them for you."
Shawn shook his head and squinted as the sun shone on his tanned features. His brow puckered in concentration.
The shoreline now received a thorough going over from the children. Nothing was missed.
Shawn’s eager rush brought him to some broken object. Hanging from one end was a piece of rope. "What is this?" he asked.
"It's a Bobber,” Pete answered. “Once it was used with a lobster trap. It floats and marks the spot. So fisherman can recover it later. In fact this shoreline still attracts a few boats to harvest those crustaceans. Anyone here like to eat lobster?" he asked.
“Yummy,” everyone agreed.
"My brother's really smart," Shawn said to himself with pride. Pete lived most of his young life on the Cape Spear Shore before their parents moved to Truro, Nova Scotia. And he should know about these things. It’s a shame, Shawn thought, years ago most people had moved away to other cities like Sackville, Moncton and Amherst.
"Look at that!" Feet chased after Shawn as he pointed to a bright green rock imbedded in the sand.
"That's just a piece of rock. No good for nothin'," bellowed Troy.
"Come on Troy," Uncle Larry said patiently. "Take a good look at what Shawn found. Use your powers of observation. You might learn something really interesting."
They carefully examined the narrow green object. Its edges were smooth as if someone filed them down. Imagine, it was a piece of glass!
Shawn felt special as everyone looked at his discovered treasure. This was a moment of glory. And he loved it.
"Once sharp edges were worn down by friction," Uncle Larry said, passing it around. "Think of how many years it must have tumbled back and forth with the waves to get to this stage."
It was hot and Shawn had a great suggestion. "Lets go in for a dip." The idea made a lot of sense. The day had turned very warm with white sand underfoot.
As uncle Larry nodded yes, shouts of “YAYYY!” accompanied everyone’s charge into the ocean. Joan and Shawn were tied for first and their shorts and jeans were quickly soaked.
"YIPES! It's too cold!" several decided. Maybe this swim wasn't such a good idea.
"Last one out gets eaten up by lobsters!" Troy shouted. And the whole band of adventurers rushed back to shore.
Uncle Larry couldn’t coax them in once more.
“No way. Too cold," they said as they dried themselves off with warm towels.
“How about a story?” Shawn asked.
“Alright,” Uncle Larry said. “Each pick up a piece of driftwood for a chair and make a little campfire circle." Then he began... "One day a brother and sister were on a beach. Just like this one," he said. “Except it was dark and they were lost. They walked a long way along the shore until they came to a deserted fisherman's house...”
“Why didn’t they just go home?” Troy interrupted.
“SSHHH!” said Shawn. “It’s a story silly.”
“…and a loud Rapping sound led them upstairs to one of the rooms,” uncle Larry continued. “In one drawer, they found…WRAPPING PAPER!!” he suddenly screamed.
Everyone gasped and fell backyards.
"What a corny ending," Troy said, watching the others laughing and rolling around on the sand.
But Shawn had fun. It was neat being here in a circle with everyone by the Atlantic Ocean. And Joan seemed to enjoy the surprise ending too. Yes, he thought scratching his chin they were having a great time. This was more fun than watching a video movie. Or eating a bag of salted chips.
By now the tide had begun to move out. And everyone, including uncle Larry and Pete ran around stamping bare feet in shallow pools of water left behind.
“Hey, look at here,” Uncle Larry said suddenly, bending down. He reached under a clump of seaweed and brought out a handful of 'Crill' or tiny shrimp. "Whales eat these in huge gulps," he said. The 'Crill' looked like tiny pink spiders.
Then Pete pointed out large clams called 'Bar Clams' scattered along the beach. Smaller 'Sea Clams' were more numerous and many of them had been forced open by hungry sea gulls.
"More treasures from Nature," Shawn said proudly. He leaned forward and picked up some souvenir shells to show mom and dad.
Dark Mussels, another type of clam were in bunches. They hid among water-drenched foliage. No matter where they searched, something special made itself known.
Shawn's eyes were large with each new discovery.
Parents began calling, "Troy! Shawn! Joan!" That was the signal for everyone to return to the family campsite. Each of the children raced back with answering cries. "Here! Coming!" they said.
Uncle Larry and Pete stood for a few moments. They were lost in thought watching children rush off to their parents.
Shawn turned and yelled, "Thanks guys!" Then he too was gone, not really caring if he lost this race. He had a really fun time.
The ocean remained calm as the afternoon came to a close.
"Race you back!" Both adults hollered like children as they chased after Shawn, determined to beat him to the supper table.
I was born in Rouyn-Quebec,
400 miles NW of Montreal, Canada. Writing poems and stories along with
many prayers from family and friends help me overcome my stroke which struck
me August 24, 1999. Thank you Lord, for my desire and memory to continue
writing. My background in community social services and love of Nature
are blended together in my stories. My wife Esther and I live in Truro,
Nova Scotia. We have four children and five grandchildren.
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