Unplug Me


This morning I was reading an article in the newspaper about e-book readers, and whether or not they work for book groups.

Individuals who are in favor of them, explained their preferences among the Kindle, Nook and iPad. Some of them described how great it is to bring your e-reader to the beach.

Seriously?

I'm afraid my cell phone and camera won't work again after a vacation at the beach. I can't imagine bringing a digital device like that to a place where I am covered in sand after 20 minutes.

Forgetting about the sand for a moment, I found myself feeling anxious all morning thinking about our relationships to our varying devices.

We have our annual Cape May trip soon, and even if I do have an iPad by then, it is not coming along to Poverty Beach.

I had already been thinking about all the magazines I will buy, mostly food and garden related. I thought that if I plan ahead, I can probably have the excuse to buy both June and July issues. Sadly, no Gourmet this year, however.

I have a novel I keep in the car that I would love to finish. There is also a book I received for Christmas, I might tote along. Yes, I have to stuff them in my beach bag every day, trying not to carry too much, but not wanting to run out of reading material. Yes, there will be sand in between the pages, and the magazine ink will get smeared from my sunscreen, but they're just magazines.

It's the simplicity I worry about sacrificing.

A day at the beach. Umbrella, towel, lunch, chair, sunscreen, sand toys and games. Book or magazine. Cell phone (unfortunately), but A. is not with us at the beach for long periods of time.

All day we swim, dig in the sand, read, collect shells, walk, and play. This is not a beach where people play radios. It is mostly people quietly and happily doing what we do.

There is a timelessness about it. That return for a week or two to absorbing where we are. We often see the same families year after year, even though we don't know them. Everyone just wants to do their thing, day after day, for as many days as we are lucky enough to have it.

Each morning when we greet the beach-tag collector, we take in the first view of the ocean and shore. Every morning it looks a little different, depending on the weather conditions. Maybe foggy, maybe clear-as-can-be. Maybe the sand is already hot, or maybe there is a strong breeze. We scan the water for dolphins.

We might find a creation we made the day before, or perhaps the waves took it away overnight. Regardless, we find our spot for the day, and drop our belongings. Time floats.

Where does a Kindle, Nook or iPad fit into this? Can't we just dig our toes into the sand, lean back under that umbrella, and hold a paperback in our hands, watching the pages blow a little as we turn them, knowing that we are somehow connected to that breeze? What about those days that are so windy that I can only read my magazine lying down on my towel? Isn't that part of what we go there for?

I want to be comfortable, but I don't want every comfort of home. I want it to be different. I want to feel like I've been somewhere.

Believe me, I love my computer, so I can do what I'm doing right this very minute. I've chosen a form of creativity where I need to be online.

But what do I come here with? Tales of my hands in flour, soil, cramped around knitting needles, fingering yarn. I am often dusty, dirty and sticky.

After reading that article, and after I dropped A. off at school, I went for a walk in the woods. I needed to get away, clear my head, feel the coolness from the creek on an already hot day.

I returned refreshed. Eager to plug in and tell you my thoughts.