Sunday, July 12, 2009

Sunday at the Beach

Today I took the longest walk since my surgery almost three weeks ago. I am at my home in Florida spending what I expect is my last week of recuperation. I am spending the week on the beach at Seagrove Beach.

I walked all the way to the next warning flag. These flags are place on the beach about a half mile apart to warn swimmers of the water conditions. It uses a simple red, yellow, green system. Today's flags were yellow and my walk was about a mile round trip.

In the winter when I come here, I can make this same walk and see no more than a handful of people. Mostly, they are locals walking or fishing. But today is Sunday, July 12 - the height of vacation season - and the beach is packed. There is not a ten yard stretch that doesn't have people on it. I used to be annoyed by this invasion of people driving cars with tags from Alabama, Tennessee and Georgia, but I have come to accept it. Sometimes, like today, I actually enjoy it.

The beach sounds were like music. The waves keeping the beat with children laughing and squealing with delight. And everywhere the beautiful Southern drawl. Smiling families were taking pictures that will no doubt be on this year's Christmas card. Many appeared to be baby's first trip to the beach pictures as well. Oh my goodness, bikinis are still itsy-bitsy.

On the walk back, I counted nearly 50 children (and a couple of adults) building sand castles. Two kids were being buried alive. (With five brothers and sisters, I remember this activity well. We also made hundreds of "frog houses" constructed by covering your feet in a mound of sand and then pulling your feet out without it collapsing. It was more like an igloo and there were no frogs around, but it entertained us for many lazy hours.) The sand castles today ranged from the primitive to the sophisticated. I saw the dry sand method, the damp sand method and the sand-water drizzle method. Most castles had the requisite moat. I noticed that some kids build the moat first and others wait until the castle is finished. The younger kids just dig a giant hole, sit in it and build a wall around themselves. Others seemed to be trying to dig to China. I didn't want to burst their bubble by telling them that I had tried that unsuccessfully for years.

It appeared to be the first day of vacation for many of the families on the beach today. I had a few hints that it was their first day. First hint, most vacation rentals here are Saturday to Saturday with Sunday being their first full day on the beach. Second, no sunburns! People always underestimate the intensity of the Florida sun off this white sand. Even with all the warnings to reapply sunscreen, many will pay the price tomorrow. I also noticed that all the readers were on the first few pages of their new books. And, my last hint, little brothers were still playing with and listening to their older sisters. I only heard one boy say to a slightly taller girl with the same color eyes and hair, "You aren't my boss!"

So I enjoyed my long walk today and I look forward to returning tomorrow. No matter how long I live away, this will always be home to me. Tomorrow, the sand castles will all be swept away ready to be built again. Cheeks and shoulders will be red. And the sugar white sand and the emerald green water will be here to welcome us all back.

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