Every morning this week, here on Fort Myers Beach, we’ve left my parent’s condo on the Back Bay and ambled for about 25 minutes toward the beach.
We gain beach access through a grassy path. This week the sprinklers shot water in all directions and we’ve learned to be crafty and dodge the jetting moving spray to reach our sandy destination. Sometimes we emerge with wet feet.
Yesterday, the wind rattled fiercely at the condo and the “arctic front” blew in from most of the Midwest. Our temperatures plummeted and settled around 70 degrees (21C). Oh how you’re shaking your head at this definition of arctic front, aren’t you?
The mind urged, “Stay safe and warm in the condo” but we soldiered forward, ignoring our inclination. I’ve discovered the mind is often in error on these matters, as outdoors proves beguiling, taking us on many unexpected pathways.
The wind felt invigorating! Yet, as we approached the sheltered nature preserve filled with tidal pools, pelicans, terns, tropical flora and fauna, it suddenly appeared balmy and quiet.
Life’s a beach, my friends. One never knows what to expect.
One morning we spotted dozens upon dozens of sand dollars washed up in the churning surf. Another day, hundreds of small conchs. The morning I left my camera at home, we glimpsed starfish undulating in the waves. They’ve stayed out in the Gulf ever since.
My mom and daughter love to shell. They peer unto the sand and through retreating tides for treasures. Oh look, a flame auger. Oh look, a white baby ear. See the nutmeg?
My daughter loves to spot birds and record their names. She’s attended birding events in the last year and pointed out species to us as we walked the beach. A fella with camera identified a “reddish egret” for us. He shared that there are two of them hanging out in the bird sanctuary. One had more white. Later, we spotted the second reddish egret with its extra white. How fascinating.
It’s a scavenger hunt for birds and shells.
I sometimes like hunting for photographs.
For the first time yesterday, I likened photography to shelling.
I like to look for patterns, for the unusual, for color, for life zinging with energy.
Then I see if the camera captures the shell of life, the wings of magic.
The camera attempting to capture life on the beach this trip is the Sony CyberShot, the sweet little point and shoot.
The Canon Rebel stays at home, snoozing under another computer. It often takes better pictures, but it’s also cumbersome to haul.
Sometimes I don’t take the camera. I let the sandy feet lead where they want to go.
Sometimes one stares in amazement at nature’s patterns. They can be so intricate, so repeating. Such artwork Mother Nature creates!
Some days I walk down to the beach alone and wander, wander, wander. It is fun to find a tucked-away area without people. To sit, to listen to the lapping waves, to hear the screech of an osprey.
To witness the mind empty of thoughts and rest as nature herself.
To reflect silence.
Sometimes dolphin arch their backs into a perfect curve and leap from the salt water.
It feels like joy leaping and receding, leaping and receding.
The tide never ceases to reveals its treasures.
The beach never remains the same.
It’s an unfolding miracle, a seashell kingdom smelling of coconut sunscreen.
Further up the beach, past the Bird Sanctuary, people settle into lawn chairs and relax, releasing daily concerns as best they can.
They read. They sunbathe. They watch small children dart into the waves, filling pails with seaweed, sea-foam and other magic ingredients in which to create a castle, a moat, a safe mooring.
Sometimes we even sleep on the beach of life, our heads thrown back, our mouths open, releasing our worries and pains and concerns.
Heading out to the beach of life again soon, just after we peel shrimp for tonight’s shrimp salad. What secrets shall be revealed? What mysteries clear? What patterns witnessed?
Will we need bandaids for our blisters again, or sweatshirts, or shorts? Will my annual rash of sun poisoning start itching more? Will the osprey fly high with a fish in its claws, and will the bald eagle swoop in to fight him for his prize again?
Only the beach knows…
The Arctic Front left us with a light covering of snow in NW CT.. Your photos are warming me up. Thanks for sharing!
Going skiing at Ski Brule tomorrow…hunting season opens…oh for the north woods….enjoy the southern end of this country…
Ahhhh, thanks for this, Kathy. Wonderful photos and experiences. You took me right back to the days of living in FMB … early morning treks on the shore before any other humans arrived … and finding those wonderful sand dollars … feeling like the luckiest creature on Earth. Sounds like you’re having a wonderful time, and I’m so glad 🙂
This is the most beautiful post! I read every word – slowly – for it recalls my days at the beach in Fla. where I grew up. Everything you say is a perfect recollection for me. I know how it looks and how it feels. I know the creatures and the capriciousness of the tides. The beach is part of my soul. Thank you so much for sharing.
thanks for that little trip–as the wind blows the leaves and snow around here I imagine myself at the beach with you–sandy toes and all
Sounds like you’re having a wonderful time. It’s true it is the colors and patterns you find that I like best in your photos. These make me yearn for a 70 degree day on the beach. 🙂
Once a year I get to (re)visit my childhood summer home – Ocean City, NJ. A dozen of us share a rented home and enjoy family time. But every morning I wake up, alone, at 6 a.m. and walk the beach for two hours. The best reflective time of my life – every summer – on the beach. So I am with you on that Florida beach, enjoying your walks and thoughts and photos. Life IS a Beach, for sure.
Oh my. I read this and see the similarities in our days. Yesterday I too took a picture of my feet at the beach…and used the word magic. 🙂 Here I am on the Pacific, there you are way over there. Robin was at the Atlantic too….isn’t it interesting how the big water draws us in. Enjoy your family time, and the warmth! 🙂
The relaxing ebb and flow of life on the beach. It’s great that you get to spend this time with family – make many memories 🙂
Ohhh Kathy, thank you so much for sharing these beautiful pictures and wonderful words ♥ I love the last picture with the beautiful sparkly sunlight on the water! Enjoy your time wandering around on the beach and treasure every moment with your loved ones ♥
That vine pattern in the sand was pretty cool! Like your mom and daughter, I’m a huge sheller. Few things delight me more.
So glad you’re enjoying the beach!
Hugs from Ecuador,
Oh so beautiful. I love your artic blast, so glad it has left the plains for a few days. We will try hard to warm the next one with our flaring before we send it south. Love those pictures, especially the reflections.
What a lovely excursion – I enjoyed every picture and every word you shared. Thank you for brightening my day!
Your reflections capture your own beauty Kathy. I hope your rash is light and the sunburn fading and the shell picking exquisite. I love your photographs. And I notice you calling yourself a photographer. YUP! Love and hugs, S
Kathy I feel like after all these visits I have been party to I should ask you to say hello to your parents! I love, LOVE the photograph of the woman wading into the gulf. Of course their had to be at least one of the white egret. Nice to see photos of you family and all as well. I can see you are deeply enjoying your time. All the best. Terrill
You described so well the allure of photography — helping us seek out those intricate patterns and details, and try to capture them so we can live them again and again as we view our snapshots years later. But equally important to take that time away from the camera and just live those moments right then.
Glad you are enjoying your time at the beach. We live in Estero FL, about 5 miles south of the Fort Myers airport and love our location.
I’m more relaxed just looking at these wonderful pics Kath thanks 😀
I find that a camera in hand opens the eyes wider. Thankfully, what happens at the beach does not stay at the beach – I loved it!
You are the “Rick Steves” of nature. Some PBS station would do well sending you across the country to wander through the natural habitat with a camera crew in tow. I am sure God loves the way you notice and appreciate the beauty of his/her work.
I’m discovering the same thing. Life is, indeed, a beach. And how wonderful that you’ve discovered this about photography. I used to collect shells and feathers and rocks. I still do, but in a different way, and realized a few years ago that photography is an extension of collecting and identifying and, yes, storing. It’s also a way of seeing, and that is the strongest part of it for me. Your beach mornings look wonderful, Kathy, and I loved being able to walk along with you. Thank you. 🙂
Life is a beach, you never know what is going to wash up!
Enjoy every special beaching walking moment of your time together.
BTW, “Arctic Front” ! Bah Humbug !
What a fun, sand-filled post to walk through, Kathy. Your photos are so crisp, I feel as though I have sugary grains stuck between my toes.
Happy that you are happy.
Looks and sounds lovely, Kathy! I am happy to see you are enjoying yourself in Florida. 🙂
Beautiful! This makes me happy ❤
Wonderful writing as usual about how life is a beach.I keep rerpeating myself about how lucky you are to have parents to love and enjoy. And what a treat to be in a marvelous place for birding, shelling, and contemplating life. ~yvonne
It looks and sounds like you’re having a wonderful time! I love shelling, too, that’s why I can walk hours and hours along the beach and not get tired, and there’s the sound of the waves, too… I can’t wait to go back!
Walking the beach with you is like sharing a bit of your life, Kathy. I watched and listened and I was quiet. Could you sense I was there?
How wonderful. Thank you for this walk on the beach. The best place in the world for releasing all those worries and cares, at least temporarily.
Soothing words and lovely photos. I felt like I was at the beach with you. I loved the vines in the sand photo.
Gorgeous photos, despite the lack of your Rebel. The reflection pics were especially fascinating as were the shells. There were a few colors of shells I have never seen on the northern beaches of Manitoba. Makes me wish we were on a southern beach somewhere. 🙂
Your Arctic Front does not seem as bad as the one we experienced in Florida (January, 2000). It actually froze so badly that the sidewalks at the resort we stayed at heaved up and the citrus farmers had to spray their orange trees with water to save their produce. At least you were still able to enjoy your time on the beach. 🙂
There is something about the ocean, isn’t there, Kathy? Just something….<3
What a great time to be on a southern vacation! Love the egret (and everything else)
Time stands still at the beach sometimes, don’t you think? Having just visited Noosa Beach on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, I can totally agree with you, life is a beach. Mind you, I do live near to beaches but it is always fun to explore a new one. Do you know what I saw at Noosa? Two young men, sitting at tables (obviously not together as they were quite a distance from one another), drawing and writing as they looked out across the ocean. Holiday memories are magical; thank you for sharing yours Kathy. 🙂