A Sea of Corn is Beautiful, But it Ain’t Ocean Park

A year ago, the Army moved us from Maine to Nebraska. I had never lived in the mid-west and quite literally burst into tears when my husband called and said “We are going to Omaha.” I had the typical misconceptions and stereotypes stuck in my east coast-lovin mind. On some levels, those steroetypes were spot-on, on other levels, they weren’t. First of all, the biggest suprise was just how much there really is to do here in Omaha, the history, the cultural events, the funky Old Market, the overwhelming amount of restaurants, and the high number of shootings tied to gang violence (topic for another day.) However….what held true was the image of endless cornfields and farms. If you drive right outside of the city, roughly ten minutes from my suburban dwelling, you see nothing but rolling hills of corn fields. And, with the overabundance of blue skies and bright sun, they look beautiful (over-used, but so appropriate). My teenage kids actually pointed out the comparison to the ocean we adored in Maine. The wind blows the tannish and green colored stalks in waves and ripples as the sun reflects from the tips. There is a deep peace and meditative look and feel to the whole scene, and I surprisingly have fallen in love with the view…

However, it ain’t Ocean Park. When people ask where my favorite spot on earth is, or tell me to calmly go to my ‘happy place’ (always the ending to the yoga class I took for awhile), Ocean Park was and is that spot. It is a very quiet and secluded beach community 40 minutes from my Maine house. It is sandwiched in between two major tourists Mecca’s that dot the southern Maine shore. Because it isn’t one of those prized tourist traps, it is relatively unknown to everyone except for the few others who sneak in and out, keeping it’s existence a shared secret. I have actually met lifetime Mainer’s who have never been to Ocean Park and others who grew up there, but don’t reveal that fact until after you tell them it’s your favorite place or beach–like there is a code of silence about mentioning it only if someone else says it first. It really is that special. It is quiet, it is clean, it is sparse, and the waves can be fierce…In between each alley way of the half dozen streets of Ocean Park, there is a wooden plank boardwalk leading upwards over a hill flanked by tall sea grass. Once you venture over the slope, you are treated to the swift cool breeze that smacks everyone back for a brief second. The open sea appears as an illusion considering you were in an alley with no ocean view moments earlier. The sand bars pepper the coast on either side. Looking left and right, if you strain your eyes, you can see the two tourist hub beaches dotted with umbrellas and crowds. However, all around you is quiet, sandy, and the foamy waves are all that breaks the silence. It is cold, but invigorating. Icy waves of the Atlantic can cause some to scurry back, but nothing makes me feel more alive, drenched in the quiet with a clear view of forever.

We went to Ocean Park nearly every week during our Maine summers, stopping at the tiny ice cream shop before leaving each time. While some may say, “it’s just a beach”, it’s more. It is away from everything else. It is unknown and untouched in many ways. It is the only beach in Maine where my kids and I regularly find whole, intact sand dollars. It is where the sea gulls scatter and dance around, but don’t hover. They get their fill up and down the coast and seem to linger around Ocean Park afterwards to relax and let their food settle. It is where we can run wildly into the water, screaming like banshees (well, I do that for kicks and out of pure excitement). It is where my kids can boogie board and not run into others, where we can laugh and draw huge letters in the sand and dig holes. It is salty air and seaweed stuck in my hair. It is where I love to get waved smacked and knocked on my ass, tumbled over backwards, and laugh every second of the beating. It is where I can do ninja kicks at the high tide and only look ridiculous to those who already know my ridiculous side. It is where I always run up the plank to get to from the alley and where I always turn back to catch another glimpse of before I leave. It is just a beach, and it is just my heaven.

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