The Beach, a Bonfire, and…a Movie?


Wood smoke mingled with ocean spray. Our bonfire crackled and popped, contributing exclamation points to the conversation. Sparks drifted up to the stars as the waves swished in song. Everyone huddled closer to the fire as the sky darkened.

setting up firepitWe laughed when the people in the encampment near us whipped out a large movie screen and set it up so that it blocked their view of the ocean and sunset. They had a bonfire going but turned away from it in favor of the technicolor fireentertainment. A family with young children. Why wouldn’t they want to use a chance like that to talk with each other? We laughed at a lot of things that night. I didn’t hear laughter coming from the movie encampment.

It’s getting harder to get away from it all when everything can be carried in a cell phone. Maybe some things have been gained with more and more technology to entertain us, but what have we lost?

What are we losing when we continue to block out the sky, the stars, and the sound of the waves?

beach sunset

56 thoughts on “The Beach, a Bonfire, and…a Movie?

    • Believe it or not, I’ve hardly ever been to a bonfire on the beach. There aren’t many places that allow it around here. The fire was a lot of fun – I’m glad you enjoyed it!

      • Many of the beaches in California had fire ring areas. However I have been away for quite awhile so don’t know if that is still an option.
        I was thinking of one night in particular on one of the San Francisco beaches and 60’s songs around the fire… 🙂

      • Beach bonfires usually make me think of 60s songs too. CA is a little more relaxed than MA so I’m sure they still have them out there.

      • While I did live in the Big Apple for nearly 6 years, I never got to MA. However, I have no plans of returning so I shall have to take your word for it. 🙂

  1. Sometimes the simple things are the best. There’s no way to replace the beauty of a sunset like in your last picture with a movie (although movies are great too. 🙂 )

    • Yes, the simpler the better. Things like that make me wonder. I do love a good movie but I also love the chance for a good conversation. The electrical plant in the sunset picture is a bit of an eyesore, but without that we wouldn’t have our movies. 🙂

  2. I don’t get to the beach much, but when I do, watching a movie on it is the furthest thing from my mind. Wow. Talk about a missed opportunity for those children!

    • It did seem pretty strange to bother going to the beach while hauling along a large movie screen. It’s funny how much things have changed just in my lifetime and I’m not really all that old. 🙂 I hope they were able to really enjoy the beach for a while before the movie started at least.

    • Exactly. I’m sure everyone gets enough of that large screen entertainment while at home these days. Possibly though, we don’t get enough chances for real conversation (and toasted marshmallows and ghost stories). Huge hugs to you!

  3. Hi Sheila, I couldn’t agree with you more. I can’t even understand people using earphones when running or walking by the sea let alone watching a movie. Maybe it takes all sorts!

    • That’s true – it’s nice to get away from those distractions whenever possible and at the same time, it seems harder and harder to do that. I’d rather give all of my attention to nature and soak it all in, especially because I don’t do that often enough.

    • I guess they thought they were enjoying it because at least they were outside? It just seemed so strange, almost as if they thought a bonfire on the beach wasn’t enough. It makes me wonder what we’re heading toward with more and more technology and entertainment everywhere when there’s already such a difference in conversational skills between the different generations.

    • Yes, and the wood smoke! There’s so much happiness to be found in nature and I’m afraid some of that is going away these days. Your poems help to remind me of the importance of the natural world, so I’m glad you’ve taken the time to look around and smell those roses.

  4. Wow, how… I’m not even sure what word to use! Crazy, interesting, disturbing, ridiculous? I bet the kids were playing video games in iPads the whole day before that. That’s really sad. People can’t even enjoy one another’s company without the help of technology.

    • Hahah! Yes, all those words and more. 🙂 I hope they weren’t on those evil iPads too! Maybe they were tired of talking with each other, but still it seemed like a wasted opportunity.

      • Well, if they were tired of each other, maybe they should have retired to their quarters for the night and watched TV in their RV. I’m reading a very interesting book on the idiot box called “Amusing ourselves to death”. Although it was written in the mid 80s, its observations are still valid today and applicable to the many new technologies we have in our hands.

    • Yes, and that’s a perfect way to put it. I was just thinking about you and your beautiful poems earlier today. They really show how powerful and inspirational nature can be. I hope you had a summer filled with that kind of inspiration.

  5. If they were going to watch a movie at the beach, why did they “bother” with a real bonfire? Why not have a projected image of one on the screen before the movie began?!

    I cannot imagine the world that children born today will inherit. I honestly don’t see our “technological wonders” leading to a better world. Different at best. Apocalyptic at worst. I’m glad you knew how to appreciate the moment!

    • Hahah – that’s true about having the fire on the screen! They might have appreciated it more that way. As it was, they had it set up with their backs to the fire so they weren’t looking at it at all. I’ve had those apocalyptic thoughts too and often wonder if technology really has made things better. Are we happier because of it? I don’t think so. Is it all worth it then? Probably not. 🙂

    • Thank you – I’m glad you enjoyed it because I love your thought-provoking posts! We really do need to get together before it starts snowing around here. xoxo

  6. Oh Sheila this resonates with me. We love a good camp site, mind games and stories around the fire. Torches in hand we wait for the possums and delight in their visits. So many kids miss out on this experience Im glad mine don’t. Thank you for a beautiful post i could not agree more.

    • That sounds wonderful – I’m so glad your kids are growing up with those kinds of experiences. Sometimes I wonder if any do at all.

  7. I couldn’t have handled the movie when the sunset was going on, but recently we went camping with our friends, and he had a big movie set up he’d built for setting up in the outdoors. After dark, he set it up by the lake and we watched an old movie on it under the stars and it was really fun. We were far enough away down a bluff that no one else in the campground was bothered, and I just kept leaning back in my chair all during the movie and watching the milky way (which was incredible). My kids and I thought it was a lot of fun. I wouldn’t want to do it all the time, but that once was very fun. I usually don’t stay up late camping once its dark because I get too cold, so this kept me up long enough to watch stars (the non Hollywood variety).

    • I’m glad someone is defending them – I was starting to feel a little mean. 🙂 I could understand it more at a camp site in the woods after dark…maybe. Even then though, it seems like it could have been a great opportunity for everyone to sit and talk. Most families don’t get to do that often enough in between work and school and TV shows. That’s great that you watched those non-Hollywood stars too! I know I don’t see them often enough.

  8. Sounds like a beautiful night for you Sheila. I’ve only ever been to one bonfire on the beach and it was pretty awesome, but I really like Char’s experience too. I can see how cool it might be to do a movie like that outdoors at night. Almost like being at a drive in (which I haven’t been to since I was a kid).

    I’m a major geek and techie, so I love all the innovations and having everything at my fingertips, but I also love silence accented by the sounds of birds singing, the breeze rustling the leaves, a distant plane flying by, etc. I guess it’s about finding a balance.

    • Hi Arlene! That’s true, but that balance is getting harder to find with all the distractions. 🙂 Sometimes I wonder what the next few generations will be like because they’re growing up this way. But then, all through time every generation has thought that about future generations. Believe it or not, I don’t even have a cell phone so I don’t fully understand that kind of technology. To me, cell phones just seem like strange gadgets that keep distracting everyone all the time.

  9. What a great post, Sheila, and I also agree with you..with the rapid progression of technology, kids aren’t outside as much because they’re all plugged in and then to be outside, bringing the technology with you?…it’s very sad, but your photos are wonderful and it’s all about enjoying the simple, fun things in life…hugs to you! xo

    • Thanks Lauren! Yes, I like to be unplugged whenever possible. The only way to really recharge is through nature. Staring at a bonfire always helps too. 🙂 I hope you were able to get out and enjoy those simpler things over the summer.

    • I know – I love all those traditional bonfire activities! We were happy with s’mores and having that chance to talk. Things like that don’t need to be supplemented with more entertainment.

  10. That’s just as bad as seeing a family out together in a restaurant, and they’re all on their cell phones and whatnot. It’s sad, really.

    Your pictures are heavenly.

    • Hahah! I can’t believe it whenever I see what looks like a supposed romantic date – two people in a restaurant – and they’re both on their cell phones. Yes, it’s a strange world we’re living in and it just might be getting stranger. Glad you liked the photos – come on down in real life any time.

  11. I have to sit and wonder why someone would need a movie screen with all of the beauty you were surrounded with that. Mama Nature puts on the best show ever.

  12. I’ll take a bonfire and good conversation any day and for gosh sakes, leave the electronics at home!! Once while camping on Martha’s Vineyard we saw a campsite with a screen house complete with a futon, electric lamps and a TV set…not what I consider camping! 😦

    • That’s funny that they would bother to haul all that to a campsite! I wouldn’t call that camping either. It’s much more fun to sit in front of a fire and watch the sparks and the stars and the sky.

  13. I’d like to think that you made up this story about folks blocking out nature to get back to their screen, but know too well that it was exactly as you told it. The laughter part as well.

    • Yes, we did laugh a lot that night. Nothing beats spending time with friends outdoors and away from it all. We were glad the movie didn’t block our view.

  14. Indeed as you ask, ” What are we losing when we continue to block out the sky, the stars, and the sound of the waves?” That is a great question. But I get the sense that the energy in most folks is now hostage to technology, fair and square. So the need to connect, chat and share a moment of togetherness under the open skies is diminishing.

    What could we do to change the direction of our energy?


    • I don’t know if there’s any real answer because different people enjoy different things. It’s nice to be able to talk with people from all over the world this way and we wouldn’t be able to do that without technology. But I love talking with friends in real life while enjoying nature too. I just wonder about the future while we rely on technology more often because we can separate ourselves from nature that way. For me, nature is the way to relaxation and happiness.

  15. Sheila, I decided to disconnect this holiday and just be in the moment with my family. I’ve never laughed harder or had more fun moments. I think technology is awesome but holidays and gatherings should be low tech and human. 🙂

    • Good idea! You deserved it after making most of your resolutions come true. I didn’t deserve it but still did the same over the holiday and for most of the weekend. Technology can be entertaining, but nothing beats sitting back and laughing with family and friends!

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