Lat Thursday afternoon, Olivia poked her head into my office while I was hard at work writing an article on “Popular Fiction” for the Cambridge World Shakespeare Encyclopedia. “Daddy,” she said, “the waves are huge! Will you take me swimming?”
The good thing about popular fiction is that it’s always there — that’s what popular means, after all — so it seemed like a pretty good idea. It had been blowing hard for a day or so, with another day of high winds and rain to come. The tide was high, and Short Beach was, for a change, a roaring shore.
Olivia suited up and put on a life jacket, & we even recruited Alinor to join us. The water isn’t cold yet, but it was pretty rough: when the swell smacks into the sea-wall, it creates a standing wave that is (as high school physics tells us) twice as high as the first wave coming in.
The rare waves brought everybody out — our neighbor Joe Piscatelli the surfer was in the middle of the bay on his board, trying (with little success, alas) to ride the swell. Dave & Gay Peterson, our most indefatigable swimmers, headed straight out along the sheltered western shore of the bay. Plus a second surfer I didn’t know and a pair of Short Beach matrons were just getting in when we finally left.
Olivia likes to float in the surf & look out as each new wave floats her up and over. We swam out pretty far, maybe 50 yards or so, so that we could float in the bigger waves. We could feel the power of the destructive element, but it also buoyed us up.