Sisters and brothers, cousins and second cousins, grandmas and great aunts. Nineteen of us this time and missing just a few for the annual (most years) few days at the beach.
It was nice this time feeling the change in the generations. My sister and I firmly in the great aunt’s generation, our daughters stepping firmly into the mothers’ roles, wrangling great gangs of kids, “nobody is coming to the beach until they have a hat and sunscreen on”, “you have to eat something or you’ll get low blood sugar and be miserable and cranky”, “find an aunt to watch the little kids in the lagoon and I’ll take the big kids out into the surf”. Grandmothers and great aunts taking long beach walks talking about vocation and staying fit. Long conversations about the ordinary extra-ordinariness of new babies and teenage angst and aging. Including by proxy ideas from grandad, died this time 5 years ago.
Two year olds and five year olds and twelve year olds and young adults and all the generations of parenthood and grandparent-hood and great grandparent-hood sharing and comparing the challenges of each life stage, and how to live them to the fullest. I know too many people stuck in one life stage or another – young adults stuck in the dependence of teenagerhood, Peter Pans in their 40s afraid to become men, grandparents reverting to sex and drugs and rock and roll, exploring the world and trying to decide what they want to be when they grow up. One of the things I appreciate about my family is its midwifery of us through the stages, maiden, mother, crone, better and better.
And, on top of all the phenomenological stuff, there is the practical issue of collecting seaweed to take home. Jack and Michaela, Emma and Tayla, Ollie and Bella helped me collect. The best is half dry so it isn’t too heavy, shaken out of sand, varied kinds. At home I tip the bags out in the driveway and give it a little hose off, not too thoroughly, just enough to wash off most of the sand and some of the salt. Then I put it all into a barrel and cover with water and allow it to ferment. Every week or two, I take a bucketful of greenish water out, dilute it, and use it to water the seedlings in the shadehouse, the potplants in the bathroom, any fruit trees or garden plants I think deserving of a treat. Then I top it up again with water. Eventually the brew gets weak enough that I decide a beach trip is needed, and the magic pudding barrel is filled up again.
It’s especially valuable having a nice thick new brew this time of year. We are past the summer solstice now, and heading into the wet season in my part of the world. It’s time to start planting seeds of leafy greens again in the shadehouse and they specially like the micronutrient boost in seaweed brew. The curcubits in the garden are at risk of downy mildew and a bit of seaweed brew helps keep it at bay. And it’s coming close to the best season for planting trees, and a bucket of diluted seaweed brew helps them recover from transplant. So thank you nieces and nephews, sisters and brothers, mother and daughter, on every level.