Salt Marsh to City Street

At the edge of the island are the salt marshes of the intracoastal waterway. The lovely Dutton Island park is just minutes from home – and the beach – and it has such a different vibe, all trees and sunset views and tidal marshes for canoeing, fishing, kayaking. There’s a dock for just all that, and for watchers, too, who just want to stand stand at its edge and gape at the swampy beauty; and plenty of trails to scout for good photo ops, I can’t help myself.

But I arrived too late in the day to walk alone into the woods. I just stood at the edge of the marsh and watched the sun set on this first day of a new year, and change the hue of the sky and water by the minute. Two kayakers glided onto shore. Neither of us disturbed the other. They were enjoying their thing; I, mine, on this bonus day, this 1-1-11: lucky…auspicious? Perhaps. But I live in a different sort of mind where numbers and fortune and auspiciousness are not things that move me one way or the other.

It’s hard to leave a sight so splendid but after a while, you’re just taking pictures of the same scene,

none of them too spectacular, either, and when the courteous officer from the Atlantic Beach Police Department arrived to let me know the park was closing, I packed it in and drove the few minutes into town. I appreciated him not locking me in the park for the evening; a much more civilized choice than that of the Suwannee Springs park management, thank you very much.

Lots of people out and about in Atlantic and Neptune Beaches, out-of-towners and beachlifers alike, for the Gator Bowl was held today in Jacksonville. The beach is a draw for football fans sojourning from other states to see their teams have at it one last time in the stadium formerly known as the Gator Bowl. The cars were plenty and the restaurants looked to be doing brisk business as I set the tripod on the street corner and opened the shutter and let the holiday lights sparkle and the headlights and tail lights smear the sensor as it finally snapped its image.

The Christmas tree, in the center of town, where the mystical girl riding the sea turtle statue should have been placed is always lovely, but its spot is otherwise unoccupied the rest of the year. It will come down in the next day or so; these images show cars slowly driving around, admiring the magnificent tree, then driving away. It’s always nice to take a slow turn in the roundabout when the Christmas tree is up; I will not forget my chagrin when someone behind me honked their horn when I slowed to snap two photos from the window of my car last year!

Restraint. That should be my word for 2011. Let’s not gum up the hard drive with 214 pictures of the same event, times dozens of events per month, and remember too, that less is more here on the blog, too.

Thus, my afternoon-into-evening, on this day-of-ones: well done for a solitary girl who lives at the beach.

2011 Comes to Atlantic Beach

In our own version of Times Square, or any number of crowd-thronging, drunken revelry sort of venue (we did not imbibe) we chose the low-key way to mark the passing of this year – 2010 – not exactly my favorite year of all time – and give a nod to 2011, which I have a feeling is going to be a better one all the way around.

At about 11:40pm we rousted our lethargic selves from the various parts of the house in which we were comfortably ensconced, and could have just as easily stayed put, lazily letting 2010 go. But no, we went out into the mild night at the coast and met up with our lovely neighbors and joined them on the short walk to the sand: the eastern seaboard of Florida, where the dads of the group set up some casual fireworks and we all enjoyed a half hour or so of happy new year-ing, the kids tackling each other in the sand; the youngest, a little out-of-sorts, her earlier insistence on midnight fireworks had waned. But it was nice to get out, and be with some other good people and welcome in 2011, another year ripe with possibilities for all. That’s how I’m looking at it.

I prefer to do what we did, than gather with a crowd in Times Square or some other amped-up crowd where people are not themselves for a night. But I’m not certainly not travel-averse. NYC, Charleston, anywhere would be nice – and travel’s on the 2011 agenda – but right here at atlantic beachlife, we’ve got ourselves a pretty nice lifestyle and lovely neighbors, and that is something to celebrate.

Happy New Year!