The most lovely thing about living in this part of the world is the beach. In Southwest Florida, the beaches are spectacular, and I wager they are nicer than any other beach in the country. The Gulf of Mexico is warm, calm, and stunning in its ability to change from tourmaline to turquoise to azure and back again. I go to the beach at least once a week, and specifically, every Tuesday morning. My husband and I share one car between us and on Tuesdays he has to be to work at 8 a.m., while I don’t have to be there until 10. So I drop him off and scuttle off like a hermit crab.
Not only is my beach beautiful, it is one of the best shelling beaches in the country. These are shells I found myself–two lightning whelks and a calico scallop so vividly orange it seems to glow. Every time I visit the beach I see something new and wonderful, whether it’s a beautiful shell, dolphins swimming down the coast, or an osprey hunting for lunch. I am constantly awed by the beauty of this place and can’t tell you how much the sounds of the surf, the feeling of the sand in my toes and the salty tang of the breeze calms me, centers me, and returns me to earth. For someone who lives entirely too much in her own head, this is a gift.
The wildlife is incredible. My husband and I came across this baby octopus one afternoon at low tide. There are tons of birds: pelicans, terns, sandpipers, plovers, seagulls, herons, egrets, and ibis abound up and down the shore. But we have also seen dolphins, stingrays, jellyfish, Portoguese man o’ wars, and even once a manatee. He was slowly moving his way north up the beach, a few yards out, quivering, whiskered nose breaking the surface.
And of course, the sunsets are other-worldly. Living on the west coast of Florida, we get the spectacular light shows when the sun goes down. It is a very popular tourist thing to walk down to the beach to watch the sunset, but I laugh when everyone turns around and leaves the second the last smidge of it descends below the horizon. I’ve found the best part of the show comes after, and my husband and I are usually alone on the sand to see it.
Yep, I love my beach. It has never failed to soothe me when I’m anxious, ground me when I’m untethered, or delight me with something new. Every Tuesday morning I dip my toes in the water, do a little meditating and look for shells. It’s where I remember how to breathe. Inhale with me… two… three. And exhale, two… three.
All right everyone. Back to work.