Sunday, August 19, 2012

Beach Behavior

I love beaches but I don't visit as often as I would like. When I am on a beach, it becomes an interesting study in human behavior. We picked a week day to go to the Delaware State Park beaches on the Atlantic Ocean side so it wasn't as crowded as the more popular beaches to the north. We found a place to settle on the sand close to the water because watching the water is what I like to do. The beach was a wide white stretch of sand with a kind of platform that has a slope down to the water. We like to sit at the edge of the "stage" to watch the waves crash. I noticed that a lot of people turn their chairs at an angle to the beach rather than facing the beach. It looked like rows of seagulls facing the wind. The sun was everywhere so you didn't need to face the sun for maximum rays. I wondered if it is considered correct beach etiquette not to face the water so that one doesn't appear to be leering at those going into the water. 

People take their beach umbrellas and sit in sand chairs but not many lie on their towels for the sun to toast them. Some read, some appear to be sleeping, but since most people are wearing sunglasses and hats, it is hard to tell where their attention is directed. I don't mind people watching and I do my share of that. I don't consider it staring or leering. It is understandable that parents of little kids would be ever watchful of their little ones and anyone paying them undue attention. I'm a grandmother and little kids are cute and fun, but I am cautious about appearing to be too interested in them because I am also alert to unsavory characters. 


Thankfully, we found that people are considerate enough to leave plenty of space between where their groups settle and they give each other a little space to enjoy the beach in a circle of privacy. It seems to be an unwritten rule that people occupy about a 20 foot diameter circle between themselves and other beach groups. That seemed to be the minimum norm on a weekday. On that particular beach, people entered the beach at the facilities/concession stand/parking lot and kept walking until they found an uncrowded area to settle. Walking in the sand is such good exercise, you can feel the muscles jumping to attention.


I saw no one smoking and it was discouraged even outdoors. No one brought a dog to leave poop underfoot. I didn't notice if they were banned, but they probably were banned on that beach. It was a state park with a gate stand, admission fee, and park rules were posted. We didn't hear any loud music and saw people with their earbuds enjoying their music privately. I enjoy the sound of the waves and leave the music for other places. It is nice to visit an area where people are considerate of other beach visitors.


beach umbrella + surf board = sailboat
I didn't observe anyone feeding the seagulls even though they were scavenging as usual. People kept their food covered until it went into their mouths because a french fry waving in the air would have been snapped up by an opportunistic gull. It was interesting that there were no garbage cans that anyone would have to keep clean or that would attract scavengers. It was understood that you take away everything you bring. It was a clean beach and I saw no garbage--plastic bottles, cigarette butts, glass or anything other than seashells. I was very appreciative of the clean, white sand. We had scouted down the coast for an hour before we decided on a place to settle. It was a good choice and worth a return visit. The whole idea is to have a quiet, relaxing day and it was that. We spent five hours enjoying the sand, surf, and water.


I wish I could live in one of those houses.