There are many things to love about Coronado, California.
There is the bridge. There is the Del. There is Danny’s Burgers. There is the little yellow house by Star Park where The Wizard of Oz books were written. There is the view of San Diego. And of course, there is the beach.
But of all these things to love about the island, my favorite thing is the morning.
Every morning my husband Michael and I wake up in Coronado, he rolls over and says, “Let’s go get coffee.” We put on various layers of clothes, our tennis shoes, walk out the door, and begin the twelve- block walk to Starbucks. Every morning Michael waits in line for his coffee and I walk next door to the bakery where I get a crispy-flaky-sugar-coated pastry disk. Then, with our goodies in hand, we take the “long way home.”
The long way home involves walking down Orange Avenue, through the Hotel Del, and then along the beach. Some days we walk in the sand and others we take the sidewalk. When we run out of shoreline, we wander our way back home taking different routes to admire the many houses that give the island its charm.
Three hours later, our walk-to-get-coffee is complete.
And while nearly every trip around the island is breathtaking, there is one walk I’ll never forget…
It was shortly after the holidays and Michael and I were in the middle of our Coronado morning routine. Michael had his coffee, I had already finished my crispy disk, we were finished at the Del, and we were walking the sidewalk that framed the famous beach. Despite a chill in the air, the sun was out and people from all over the world were also out on the sidewalk that framed the beach—young couples, old couples, couples with children, joggers, walkers, dog people. It was a little crowded, but festive and cheerful.
As we maneuvered our way down the sidewalk, two children stood out. They were a young sister and brother who had obviously been told to wait by the lamppost while their parents rummaged around in the minivan parked next to them. To entertain themselves the children were playing a game they had just created, a game I assumed was called, “This is My Pile of Sand.” They took turns standing on the tiny piles of sand that had accumulated on either side of the lamppost. The sister would yell, “This is MY pile of sand,” and the brother would run to her side, stick his foot in the pile and yell, “No! This is MY pile of sand!” The sister would then run to the other side of the lamppost, stand in the tiny pile on that side and yell, “This is MY pile of sand.”
I watched these barefooted children battle each other as we walked. It was all out war. They fought hard and loudly just to wiggle their tiny toes in “piles of sand” not much bigger than ant hills. Nothing could break their focus, not even their mother yelling to play nicely.
As we passed the children, I couldn’t help but look to my left….
There, filling the two hundred yards between the sidewalk and the sea, sprawling miles down the waterscape in sheets of winter cold-glistening white, were limitless tons of classic California sand.
Some was spotted with footprints from tourists, some lay smooth, and still more lay in waves—textured by the wind. Finally, immediately in front of where the children were playing “This is My Pile of Sand,” towered the Coronado Dunes; dunes that were big enough to exhaust a high school water polo team forced to run them during early morning practice. Dunes that would sort the men from the boys during Navy SEAL training. Dunes that, from the sky, clearly spell the word C-O-R-O-N-A-D-O.
Enormous piles of sand. Just a few feet from where the children played.
Soaring piles of sand to satisfy their every sand-filled dream. Piles the children never even noticed because they were too busy fighting over the tiny accumulations around the base of the lamppost where they stood.
They never even looked up. The thought never even occurred to them that more sand could be waiting just moments away on the other side of the concrete path.
Now, to their credit, they were children—children who were no doubt told by their parents not to so much as look in the direction of the beach. They were children who had no choice but to keep themselves busy while waiting for their parents to take them by the hand and lead them to their next adventure. They did the best they could with what they had without being tempted by what was around them.
They were children.
But what is my excuse?
On more than one occasion I have found myself entirely wrapped up, fighting and frustrated, stomping around barefoot trying to stake my claim on a tiny, insignificant pile of sand—the sand of relationships, the sand of social status or money, the sand of a career… whatever. I have been deeply consumed in games of King of the Mini Mound that leave me oblivious to the beautiful beaches around me. Beaches with unlimited sand, possibility, and happiness. We’ve all been there. Investing our energy in small things while the big ones lay untouched on the other side of the sidewalk.
As Michael and I walked past the children, I lost myself in these thoughts. Startled by my silence (an unusual occurrence), he asked what was on my mind and I told him about the dueling brother and sister and their tiny piles of sand and about how ashamed I was that I am sometimes one of them. He nodded – he was too.
Shortly after passing the children, the sidewalk became a little too crowded and we strayed from the shoreline. We began weaving our way back through the Coronado grid—streets of letter and number. As we wandered, passing block after block of gorgeous houses built by dreams realized, we talked about the beaches of sand waiting for us, beaches we might not have noticed, sand it was time to explore.
By the time we turned the corner onto the block we called home for the weekend, the sun was high and the day was warming up. Afternoon was approaching. It was time to say goodbye to another morning—my favorite thing about Coronado—and to look forward to the many mornings, spent on vast beaches, ahead.
Copyright Telzall 2014
Kindra Hall is an author, speaker, and storyteller with over 20 years of experience. She works with organizations and individuals to help them discover, craft, and deliver their personal stories in order to more effectively communicate their mission and values. Find out more about Kindra at http://kindrahall.com/