Back to the Beach

I’m a fan of beaches in general; always have been. Now that I’m able to walk to a beautiful Florida beach right in my own neighborhood, I still have to pinch myself that it’s all worked out this way, even after eleven years of calling ‘the beach’ my home.

For years my sister has made her life in California and I loved visiting her there. I loved the coast, and the mountains, and the fact that she lived in such a gorgeous geographical location with a lovely climate. I’d truly hate to leave there when my time was up, to return to my home in the often-dreary midwest; at least for so many months of the year.

Now when I come home from any vacation, I don’t feel that pang of longing to live somewhere else.  I do live somewhere else. I live in Florida, of all places, and right at the coastline, too!  Oh, how fortunate I feel about that.  I love our climate – I’ve adjusted to the summer weather – and the winters here are sublime.  I love being able to come home to this:

To walk from my house, to the sand, with a chair, towel, book, and drink, and spend a couple of hours.  Like I did, yesterday.  It was a picture-perfect day.  To make my point, behold this:

Neighborhood surfer, coming in from a short, late afternoon session.

Yes, that’s a jellyfish in the foreground, left picture.  No worries.

Surfing is a sport that people can and do enjoy at all ages.  Living near the beach, if the waves are good, you can dash in for a bit, or longer.  There’s a tide clock at the center of town, but surfers follow the rhythms of the tide and swell in their own ways.  The clock is charming; an old-fashioned lamppost style that stands in the middle of the ‘five-way stop’ that residents of Atlantic Beach all know well.

On this Florida beach, unlike the beaches in Malibu, for instance, we only have to wear wet suits in the winter time.  They are still wearing wet suits in the Pacific; in Florida, our waters warm up early and stay warm for several months.

This was an ideal beach weekend, and there’ll be many more to follow.  The ocean air smells like home, now, and even when I was on the west coast, the salty beach air evoked a visceral home sort of feeling in me.

It seems that everyone was on our Florida beach this weekend, and I’m guessing the scene was similar all around our state.   Even at 6:00pm, I saw people still arriving, not wanting the last of the weekend to slip away,  while some were beginning to depart. Judging from these photos, though, it looks like a lot of people were having a good time, and weren’t planning to leave anytime soon!

I didn’t mean to eavesdrop.  I had the telephoto on and just pointed outward to sea.  Imagine my grin when I brought this sweet image up on the laptop.  How could I leave this one out?  It was the green/blue water that drew my lens.  It was the surprise between the waves that conspired to make this one a keeper.

Beachlife Springtime

The weather’s been fantastic these past several weeks, and my beach season 2011 opened officially the day I put on my black bathing suit a couple of weeks ago,   and spent a glorious afternoon on the white sands of my beach.

Yes, it still fits.

No, I won’t be posting any pictures of me in it.  Well, all right.  Here’s me, waving goodbye to the weekend last Sunday.

It was a perfect day; a bit on the cool side, but we know that summer’s heat and humidity is on its way.  That’s when we give thanks for Florida’s springs;  many are located within ‘day tripping’ distance and we’re already talking about our first trip there.  I say we go in May.  Last year, we went to my favorite, Blue Springs Park, to kick off my birthday weekend and had a heck of a great time. I recall that I captured my experience here, and that it was a sort of ‘life list’ moment for me.  When I first discovered the tiny  Naked Spring on grounds at Blue Springs, I was enchanted.

There is so much to do and discover in this region.  The kids in the carpool were discussing our summer day-trippin’ plans just this afternoon.  We have a sort of  travel posse: a gaggle of kids and various hangers-on,  together with three or four other cars full of moms, their kids, friends, coolers, fins, masks,  towels, sandwiches, sunscreen, snacks, a watermelon, cash, and whatever else we need to make our longish journey there and back in a day. We leave early and come home late.  There are about four of us adults, and we’ve all touched base recently and signed on for another summer of exploring and fun!  I can’t wait.

Stay tuned for reports of our adventures.

And I may have some special destination reports here soon.  Plans are afoot to take Atlantic Beachlife on the road…

Macro Monday

An afternoon spent in Howell Park in Atlantic Beach, crawling on the ground with a camera.  Fun.

Howell Park was crawling with Girl Scouts, so when I heard their event was being held there on a Sunday afternoon…I knew what I’d be doing while she was doing her Brownie thing.

I had a fine time trying to get some good macro shots.  I did indeed crawl about on the ground, hoping that I would not not crawl upon some dog’s business. On my shoe is one thing; that was bad enough.  On my shirt?  I couldn’t bear it!  So I was very careful because I was off the beaten path, and that’s where people usually  turn the other way if they’re inclined to do so, and Howell Park is a nice park for dog walking.  (It’s not a dog park; we do have a few of those  here at the beach.)  Why am I talking about dogs?  Oh yes.  I’m still traumatized from last Sunday’s misstep and so when I was crawling on the ground looking for spiders and weeds and azalea blooms, I also tried to be aware of my surroundings.

I felt a little guilty when one of the moms came to pick up her child and saw me with my camera.

“Did you get a lot of good pictures of the girls?” she asked brightly.

Actually, I didn’t take a single one of them.  It wasn’t my day’s mission.  I was having my own field trip, thanks very much.

Oh there were so many great opportunities that just missed the mark by this much.  Even these…but I post anyway because it’s all about the practice and besides, it gives me hope.

(click on this one as large as you can to really see the spider. he’s amazing.)

Well, Hello Sunglasses. I’ve Missed You.

It’s a gorgeous day at the beach.  After several days of gloomy but mild weather, today is like SPRING with people outside, soaking it up.  Guys without shirts in the front yard (well, not a look I’m exactly fond of unless a guy is at the beach) and girls in bikinis getting their tan on. Convertibles.  Surfing. (They surf all winter, anyway.) But still.  There’s a lightness of being about today and my spirit likes it, very much, thank you.

(This is an interesting house in Neptune Beach, oceanfront.)

So today, a video snippet of beachlife for a February afternoon:

And, part deux:

(photo and video compliments of iPhone 4)

Friday Night Lights, Beach Style

So, yes, it was back in October when we made this little clip and when I watched it again it so perfectly captured a fall evening at the beach I had to post it here. Even if it is “the dead of winter” now.

Then, it was mid October and autumn was settling in around us. It’s always a relief by that time to have our change of season, and especially because we know we’ve got months of glorious weather ahead. Aside from the sometimes cold days and the freakishly frigid weather that does make its way down south and out to the beach at times – fall, winter, and spring are really fantastic months of weather here. During February and March, the live oaks shed their leaves to make way for the tiny leaflets to blossom, so it does require the lawn-raking that gets tedious in a hurry…and it seems a rather constant, gentle falling of leaves for several weeks as beachlife spring emerges. Of course we don’t get those breathtaking color changes of the deciduous trees further north… but I really don’t mind because missing that means I also get to miss Real Winter Weather: snow, sleet, slush, dangerous driving conditions, pot-holed roadways, rock salt all over my car, and sunless days – seemingly gray skies for weeks on end. Get the picture?

Now, it’s colder outside but still great for golf, biking, surfing in a wet suit, and wearing the fall clothes I’d snapped up even as early as August (those boots! had to have them! both pairs!). But this evening, as pictured above, was one of many we get to enjoy, living at the beach. Living here isn’t for everyone, but the coast speaks to my soul, so to have landed here has been a really happy thing.