Eva Goes On Holiday # 5
The story so far: Eva is little girl living in post-war Germany. Because she might be in danger of contracting TBC she is sent to a children's home, which is also used as a sanatorium, on the island of Norderney in the North Sea. She is away from home, on her own, for the first time in her life.
the sand dunes on Norderney
We went to the beach today because it’s warm enough now and we are all much better, Miss Manfred says. Nobody had to stay behind, which was really nice.
I knew it must be the sea because the other children had told me what it looked like when they came back from the beach. The beach was really just sand, with sandhills and grass behind, which Miss Manfred said were dunes, but the sea was huge, lots and lots of water, as far as you could see, which was a sort of greeny-blue colour and sparkly and the water kept coming on to the beach, and you had to run backwards quickly if you didn’t want to get your skirt wet. Once I nearly fell over. Miss Manfred would have been really cross with me.
First the waves came rolling up and they had white foam on the top, like egg-snow, and then they tipped over and when they reached the beach they were like little foamy ripples, just like when Mum chucks a bucket of soap water over the stones in the backyard. And when I stood on the wet sand, it sort of shrank away from under my feet and made a hole and my feet got sucked into it.
It was brilliant.
I have never been to the sea before and I just stared and stared at it. Where the sun and the sea meet, far, far away, a kind of path appears, like a ribbon, golden and shimmering, and it came all the way up to me, as if it was meant just for me, and I really wanted to run into the sea and walk on the path, into the sun. But I knew I couldn’t, because it was really just water and I would have sunk and maybe drowned.
When I am grown-up and when I can go where I want, I will come back to the sea and I will try to walk on the path and if I can’t walk, then I will learn to swim in the golden path.
I saw other people in the water and they were splashing and waving their arms about and throwing a big ball with lots of colours on it. Lots of people were playing on the beach, in the sand, children and grown-ups too. Some people had spades and they were digging holes and making big heaps of sand. I didn’t know what they were doing with the sand but Miss Manfred said they were building sandcastles and would we like to build one too. She had spades and a ball for us in a big sack, so we could choose what we wanted to do, if we promised to stay away from the water and didn’t get lost or run too far.
Birgie and Marianne wanted to play with the ball and Susie and Gisela and I asked for a spade. But it was silly to dig a hole and end up with a pile of sand. We were supposed to pour water over it and sort of make it into a wall. Miss Manfred gave us a bucket and we poured the water over the sand but it kept cracking and collapsed all the time.
I watched the other people who were building sandcastles, they were much better at it, because they had big boys and grown-ups to help.
I didn’t want to play; I wanted to sit in the sand and let the sun shine on me and watch the golden path.
the North Sea at Sunset