I think just about everyone would agree that the beach is a relaxing place to be. The water rolls up endlessly, reminding us that no matter what we do, it really doesn’t matter all that much. The sound of the waves tends to wash out the sounds of endless worries we all have as we go through our days – did I do my laundry, what time is my next class, I’ve got to study for my final! All that gets buried under the sands that will pile up over your feet as you stand at the edge of the icy cold water and watch the unchanging horizon. Birds circle overhead in their endless dance for survival and all you can do is watch them and wonder at the aerobatic feats they perform. Or maybe you watch the tiny sandpipers as they run back and forth in the wake of the waves, moving their little legs so fast they are but a blur, and you think how happy you are to just be standing still.
The winter beach is cold, of course, but this offers its own form of comfort. It begins with your clothing, which is layered and bulky, soft and warm against your skin. This makes a strong contrast to the cold of the water and the chill of the wet wind coming off the sea, which makes you notice it all the more. While the wind may have come from far away, you can be comforted in knowing either that you are close to home or that you have the freedom to explore new places just as the wind does. To keep from getting too cold, you can build a bonfire, or maybe just a small campfire. Staring into the flames in a place where wind, water, earth and fire are all brought together puts you in touch with the elements and again, the petty concerns of daily life drop away. If anyone else is on the beach, they are likely to come over and say hi and share the warmth of your fire with you, adding another kind of warmth to the experience.
The last element of the winter beach that can’t be matched in the summer is the release