Sunday, May 3, 2015

Beach Days....

When I was a child growing up in Central Florida, the Atlantic coast was about an hour away through sparsely populated countryside.  On beach-going days, I'd awaken to the smell of chicken frying and eggs being hard boiled, the sounds of pickle jars being opened and the creak of the picnic basket lid.

New Smyrna Beach then was a flat stretch of strand with hardly any people enjoying the sun and surf.  There might be a busy spot right at the main entrance to the beach, but the rest was left to lone fishermen and small family groups stretched out over miles of sugar sand.  To get to this beach we drove through several small towns  - Sanford with it's cabbage and celery fields, across the St. Johns River, then through Osteen, Mims, and other "wide places in the road."  Old rural Florida at it's best to my mind and eye - a Florida that barely exists except in memory.

This isn't an old photo, but one I took recently of an old farm building then "doctored" 
A recent photo but of a single track road winding through palmetto scrub - the kind of road we used to see frequently.

When I got older and could drive the family car or ride with friends, one morning in spring, I'd wake up and it would, without a doubt, be a BEACH DAY!!  Mother can I have the car?  Then the phone would ring and somebody else would already have gotten permission to borrow their family's transportation.  No frying chicken now - no time..... pack a PPJ, a banana, some Fig Newtons® a couple of bottles of soda, a thermos of cold water and we were off.  Towels....check, hat....check,  flip-flops and bathing suit on.... CHECK!!  And don't forget the old white T-shirt to wear on the drive home - soft and comforting to sunburned skin.....

Now I'm seriously OLDER and yesterday morning was definitely a BEACH DAY!  What is that transitory quality of light and air that ignites those old sensations of excitement and possibility?  Whatever, since I live just four miles from the beach, it is the Gulf of Mexico instead of the Atlantic Ocean now, I no longer have to pack a picnic unless I want to and the drive is past mobile home parks and strip malls, but ..... OH!!  When I reach the shore, it is still the same feeling of freedom, of adventure, of limitless possibility.

I have no photographs of childhood trips to the beach at New Smyrna, and only a few from my high school and young adult days.  I treasure them in a way too mysterious and complicated to describe.

These days, with a digital camera, it's easy to take photo after photo - yesterday was a birdwatching day - a few gulls, but mostly Elegant and Sandwich Terns in a mixed flock as well as a couple of Black-bellied Plovers.

The terns were busy in two different flocks - all chattering and angling for position - swooping into the water for small fish to eat, doing a little pair-bonding, preening their already perfect sleek feathers.....

Please click on photos for a larger look

And here's a Willet, tail up, with his beak in the waves.... 

The Elegant Terns have the orange beaks, while the Sandwich terns are a bit smaller and have black beaks.


During Spring and Summer, parts of our beaches become protected nesting sites for Black-bellied Plovers.  

The sign......


The section of beach......


And one B-B Plover - they're skittish and this was as close as I could get even with the zoom.....


 All-in-all a most satisfying morning spent at my favorite place with the salt-scented breeze, the shush the waves and a gentle sun beaming down.

1 comment:

  1. Ahh! The beach days. They are coming soon to my area.

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