A Perfect September Day in Which We Head to the Beach to Celebrate Clif’s Birthday

IMG_2318Sunday was Clif’s birthday, and a week ago, I asked him what he wanted to do on his special day. “If the day is good, go to the ocean,” he promptly replied.

Yesterday was very good indeed, one of those bright September days with nary a cloud in the sky. We packed crab salad sandwiches, grapes, and cookies, and off we headed for our favorite beach—Popham Beach State Park. We love this beach for its broad expanse of sand, especially when the tide is out, but we especially love how the beach is not overdeveloped. On the state park end of things, there is nothing but sand, rocks, sea, and sky, but even when you leave the state park, there are no condos, no honky tonk, no gift shops. Instead, there are a few cottages, one small restaurant, not visible from the state park, and an old ruin of a fort, built in 1807.

After our picnic—a brisk one because of the ocean breeze—we walked the beach. Luck was with us—the tide was going out—and in the clear September light, this beach was even more beautiful and sparkling than it usually is. It was almost as if the beach were saying, “Yes, I show my beauty in the summer to all the tourists, but I am most radiant in the fall, after most of the tourists have left.  It is my gift to all those who are hardy enough to stay here year round.”

We brought our wee cameras, of course, and we happily snapped pictures to record our walk.


Because the tide was out, we headed to an island that can be reached only at low tide.


On the way, I found an intact sand dollar, which I tucked in my pocket for safe transport.


At the island, Clif climbed to the top.


While Clif explored the island, I found a rock seat and had my moment of Zen as I watched the water and the sky. Truly, I could have sat there for hours.


My moment of Zen must have given me a pleasant expression because two women—about my age—stopped to speak to me. They were complete strangers, but I was happy to chat with them. (This happens surprisingly often to me when I am at the beach. For some reason, strangers like to chat with me.)

All too soon, it was time to head back. At the edge of the beach, fragrant roses were still in bloom.


All the way home, we thought about the sea, the sand, the sparkling water, and the deep blue sky. A perfect day that needed a special ending.

“Let’s have a fire,” I said to Clif, “and eat supper beside it.”


This we did, enjoying a meal of baked potatoes topped with chili and cheese.

But before we ate, I toasted Clif, wishing him many more birthdays and a happy, creative retirement.


Wednesday is Clif’s last day at work. But that is another story.

17 thoughts on “A Perfect September Day in Which We Head to the Beach to Celebrate Clif’s Birthday”

  1. a lovely tribute to a Maine beach in the cool fall, and to Clif… Popham is a favorite of mine, too… especially when the tide is out and you can walk in the tidal pools and go to the island…

    1. I know, Claire. What a beach! We can thank our lucky stars that Popham beach is a state park and therefore is open to all.

  2. I have a beach poem… ! haha.. what a surprise… but your story made me think of it… so here’s a poem for Clif on his birthday.

    The Edge
    Undertow tugs the valley of the next wave
    curling it into a crunch that crashes
    as loud as gulls low-flying the sand,
    screeching for tidbits on our beach blanket.

    We walk the shore as if one person,
    my pink bonnet to shade my eyes
    and you, a seven year old of burnished gold.

    You wade in deep tidal pools
    fearless of the ocean that runs up the bank,
    swoons, then cascades back, never quite
    catching sandpipers stuttering along beside
    a vastness we barely comprehend.

    Our eyes scan the sky at the sea’s blue-white line,
    the timbre of our voices swallowed. The wind,
    as it did before memory, sings it back,
    our red, painted toe nails teetering
    on the thin line of discovery.

    1. Yes, yes, Claire. Thanks for the lovely poem. I will feature it on today’s post, and, of course, give credit where it’s due 😉

    1. Thanks, Burni, And thanks for the adorable card you sent Clif. The cat in the photo looks like our own dear little Miss Watson.

    1. Mary, you are most welcome. I know how you feel. We live in inland, but we both feel that any sunny day spent at the beach is a good day.

    1. Thanks, Judy! Although we didn’t have a say in the matter, both Clif and I feel very grateful to have born in such a beautiful month.

    1. Thanks, Derrick. And what a wild, rainy day on which to retire. Torrential rains for the Northeast, with a hurricane blasting its way up the coast.

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