There's something existentially good about bringing your children to the beach. For so many of us, there's an unquiet pull toward the shore, something inside that beckons us to find the land's terminus, and I assure you the same measure plums a line in kids' hearts as well.
The beach is a homing beacon, a pulse that corrects our attitudes, a constant. Even the first night, after we'd unpacked the van and made the inaugural supply trip and found a simple supper, even then, something compelled us to walk out on the pier, crossing the high tide below us in darkness, the somber fishermen, their night baited hooks lurking forty feet down, the sea gentle and present and lulling us, back and forth, over and over, transfixed.
A fellow plucked a baby shark from the murky sea. The pup flopped about on the pier's deck a bit until its new master, a grandfather who seemed preternaturally calm about handling even foot-long sharks, bare-handed it. My children gazed on as he pushed the hook back through and untangled his catch. "Want to touch him?" he asked.
Thomas looked up at me, and Julia, casual as ever, stepped forward, her fingers running with the grain of the pup's scales. It was a classically composed specimen, speedy lines, its nose pushed over its jaws, a startling countenance even in miniature. Thomas joined in after determining the catch wouldn't, in fact, attempt to kill him. We saw another shark hauled up in our twenty minute walk down the pier and back; it might have been the same shark caught twice, maybe just a young, dumb bloke who was the only thing swimming around out there, the lure of another chunk of shrimp too good to pass up.