“Wake up, dear Pictou. We’re going to the beach today.”

Feeling a shaking sensation on his sleeping self, Pictou woke up to see Port Hawkesbury. “Good morning, sweetie.” She touched and stroked him tenderly, and she opened the curtains to let the sun through. Picking Pictou up, Port Hawkesbury carried him downstairs to the kitchen to have breakfast.

Pictou and Port Hawkesbury watched Stellarton pack their swimming bags, Pictou cradled in Port Hawkesbury’s arms. Port Hawkesbury made a sweet sound to Pictou, stroking him caringly. “You’re my little beauty.” “Mmm-hmm.” “Oh yes you are.” She tickled Pictou, making him giggle. Propping Pictou up, Port Hawkesbury touched and tickled him in different spots around his body. “Hey, Pictou, whatcha gonna do?” she sang sweetly as she tickled him. Pictou giggled again, and he smiled sweetly.

Stellarton loaded all the beach gear into the trunk, shutting and locking it, and he approached Pictou and Port Hawkesbury. “Everything’s ready,” he told them. With that, the Denoons all got into the car, shutting and locking the doors and fastening their seatbelts. Stellarton inserted the key into the ignition and started the engine. “And off we go!” he announced in French, and Port Hawkesbury and Pictou cheering as they all set off on their journey to Melmerby Beach.

Cruising down the Trans-Canada Highway 104 near New Glasgow on the way to Melmerby Beach, the Denoons felt a fresh breeze blowing through the open windows. Folk music played through the stereo, and Port Hawkesbury tapped her foot to the melody, humming along pleasantly.

Stellarton took a brief glimpse at Pictou. “You alright?” he asked him in French. “Oui,” Pictou replied in French. He sniffed the air, sighing blissfully, and lay back in his seat.

On the route from Little Harbour, Pictou glanced out of the window, catching a glimpse of the sea. He sniffed seawater in the air. “I can see the sea,” he remarked. Stellarton laughed. “Yes,” he agreed, “you can see the sea. We’re nearly there now.” Stellarton turned onto a country road, where the sea was edging closer, and the seawater aroma was getting stronger.

Eventually, the Denoons arrived at a parkette on a cliff facing the beach. “Here we are,” Stellarton announced in French. Pictou nodded. Stellarton drove into an empty space, closed all the windows and switched the ignition off. He unbuckled his seatbelt, unlocked and opened the door. “Come on, little Pictou,” Port Hawkesbury called Pictou on, unfastening both her seatbelt and his.

Once on the beach, the Denoons all got changed into their swimming costumes. Stellarton covered Pictou with a towel while Port Hawkesbury slipped him into his swimming trunks. Port Hawkesbury unwrapped Pictou and lay the towel down on the sand, then she fetched another towel and layered it on top. Port Hawkesbury and Stellarton both lay down on the towel and pulled the other over themselves, just as if they were sleeping in their bed back home. Pictou wobbled down the beach. “Alright?” the lifeguard asked him, and he waddled on towards the sea, feeling nervous.

Suddenly, a wave crashed upon the shore and washed up to Pictou’s hips, causing his diaper to inflate with the excess water, making him gasp in shock. Some of the inflated diaper puffed out from beneath his trunks. Everybody on the beach, the Denoons included, also gasped, staring at him. Pictou glanced back for a second, then he turned around, looking ashamed, uttering another gasp. Some people laughed meanly at Pictou, while others disapproved or glowered at him. Some Canadian Boys on the cliff pointed at Pictou and jeered at him, making Pictou feel even more ashamed.

Port Hawkesbury and Stellarton got up and came closer to Pictou. Port Hawkesbury disapproved, while Stellarton jotted some notes down in his notebook. Port Hawkesbury and Stellarton returned to their spot with Pictou, and Port Hawkesbury re-wrapped Pictou with his towel as Stellarton changed him. Pictou gazed ahead, his face coloured with embarrassment.

The hot summer sun baked Port Hawkesbury and Stellarton in a warm glow as they napped on their spot on the beach, their towels protecting them from burning. Suddenly, for no obvious reason, Port Hawkesbury began to cry, feeling deep pain throbbing inside her as she sobbed tears of melancholy. Stellarton heard Port Hawkesbury’s crying, waking him up. “Port Hawkesbury,” he whispered to her in French. “Whatever’s the matter, sweetheart?” “Pictou,” she sobbed. Stellarton gazed at her. “Aw,” he cooed, stroking her affectionately. Port Hawkesbury propped herself up, and even more tears coursed down her face, worsening her anguish. Stellarton’s consoling only aggravated her heartache. She buried her face in the towel, pouring out more tears as Stellarton continued to stroke her.

Pictou came over, sniffing the air. He slipped himself into the gap between his parents and pulled the towel over his body. Pictou gazed at Port Hawkesbury. “Aw.” Stellarton nodded solemnly. “Pictie,” Port Hawkesbury sobbed softly. “Aw,” Stellarton cooed again. “That’s very affectionate indeed.” Pictou came closer to Port Hawkesbury and sniffed her as she poured out even more tears despite Stellarton’s comforting.

“How about we go swimming in the sea? All of us, together?” Pictou suggested to Port Hawkesbury. Stellarton gave another serious nod. “Alright.” Arising from the ground, the Denoons all dashed down the beach and landed with a splash in the warm sea. Port Hawkesbury’s tears blended with the seawater, making them taste even saltier. As the Denoons swam and dived under the salty sea, Pictou scanned around himself, sniffing the briny coastal air. Further out to sea, some yachts sailed the calm waters, while a fisherman reeled a net full of catch onto his boat, and a surfer rode the huge waves pushing themselves towards the shore. To his right, some wooden posts with barnacles glued to them protruded from the water, while a buoy rang its bell as it bobbed up and down on the surface of the sea. And to his left stood a white, red-topped lighthouse, perched on the edge of an eroding, grassy cliff. Seagulls swooped about and mewed in the clear skies above the Denoons, the sun illuminating their glowing flesh as they hydrated it with salty seawater.

Suddenly, Pictou relieved himself into the sea, giving it a slight yellow tinge, turning the water around him a dirty dark turquoise. Port Hawkesbury and Stellarton both gasped and stared at Pictou in shock, and Port Hawkesbury began to cry even louder. Stellarton vented his disapproval. “Now that you’ve infected the water, Pictou,” he warned Pictou sternly, “don’t even think about taking a little sip of it. And it’s very salty, too.”

Even though he felt that Stellarton had hammered the point home a little too harshly, Pictou nodded in understanding. “Nuh-uh,” he quickly added, shaking his head slowly. “Good Pictou,” Stellarton praised him seriously, and the Denoons continued with their refreshing afternoon swim in the sea, the sun baking their soaked bodies in a pleasant warmth.

Inside Deb’s Hidden Café, while the Denoons were deciding on what to have for afternoon tea, Pictou examined a plastic bag filled with seashells and mussels collected from Melmerby Beach. He sniffed the bag, catching a distinctly salty and fishy aroma in the air.

The waiter came over. “I’ll have some shortbread with a cup of tea,” asked Port Hawkesbury. “I’ll have a cup of tea, too – and some macaroni cheese,” Stellarton added. “May I have some jam tarts and a glass of milk, please?” Pictou chimed in politely. “Alright,” the waiter replied. Just as he had left, Pictou suddenly wet himself, releasing ammonia into the air. Port Hawkesbury sniffed out the odour, and she took Pictou off to change him.

The Denoons’ afternoon tea arrived just as Stellarton was jotting down some notes in his notebook. “Thanks,” he said to the waiter, and he chewed on a spoonful of his macaroni cheese. Port Hawkesbury returned, fresh from changing Pictou. She placed him back down onto his chair and sat back down at her spot. Once they were all seated, the Denoons began to dine on their afternoon tea, Pictou munching on his jam tarts and taking little sips of his milk.

Port Hawkesbury saturated Pictou’s hair with a splash of hot water. She squeezed some shampoo out onto his wet hair and began to gently massage it in, releasing the salty aroma of the sea into the air as it bubbled over into a thick, rich and creamy lather. Pictou sniffed the air. “Je peux sentir la mer,” he remarked in French. “Oui,” Port Hawkesbury replied in French.

Port Hawkesbury gave Pictou’s hair another good splash of water, squeezing some conditioner on top. Letting a little water trickle onto Pictou’s hair, she gave it another gentle massage, creating clear little bubbles on the surface, which strengthened the briny fragrance of the sea. Port Hawkesbury rinsed Pictou’s hair with plenty of water.

Suddenly, Pictou let the liquid contents of his bladder go, briefly staining the hot water yellow, then a dirty pale grey. Port Hawkesbury gasped in shock. “Pictou Denoon,” she reprimanded him, tapping his right shoulder gently and disapproving. “That’s filthy.” She gave Pictou another pouring of fresh, hot water. “Oh, do forgive me,” Pictou apologized in French, which Port Hawkesbury accepted. She washed out her downstairs, helping Pictou to clean himself using her hands.

Port Hawkesbury rinsed herself and Pictou with a couple more buckets of hot water. “I loved it at the beach today,” Pictou recounted pleasantly. “Yes, my dear Pictou,” Port Hawkesbury agreed. “Oh yes, you did.” She touched and caressed Pictou’s hair tenderly. Port Hawkesbury splashed a bowlful of water over both herself and Pictou, beginning to shave her underarms while he watched. “We collected lots of seashells,” Pictou continued. “Oh, and mussels, too.” “I know, dear Pictou,” Port Hawkesbury replied. “They’re beautiful. So beautiful, they’re worthy of decorating our bathroom.” Pictou agreed. “Mmm-hmm.”

Port Hawkesbury rinsed her underarms, giving both herself and Pictou a finishing splash of hot water, and unplugged the bathtub. Picking Pictou up, she arose from the tub and stepped outside. “Come on, sweet little Pictou,” she called him on, and they both left the bathroom to get dry and dressed.