Friday, December 16, 2011

December at the Beach

Some of you may be having the kind of December we're having along the Gulf coast.    It is warm and definitely not the kind of weather to put one in the mood to sing holiday songs and deck the halls with bows of holly or any other form of greenery.    In fact, yesterday as I was leaving the house, I was struck by how "spring-like" the weather felt.    You know what I'm talking about.    You walk out and are met with warm air, blue skies and the feeling that it's going to be a lovely day.    You half expect to see flowers sprouting everywhere and robins scratching the ground for worms and other goodies.   Except it was mid-December and I was thinking about putting the Christmas wreath on our front door when I got home.

We have years like this pretty often where we are a week away from the jolly fat man coming down the chimney and you'd swear it's time to break out the shorts and tee shirts.   The very thought of wearing a sweater or other winter apparel makes you start to itch and sweat.    In fact, having really cold weather at Christmas is more often the exception to the rule.  Having weather cold enough for even a fake log in the fireplace is rare.  True winter weather is probably another two or three weeks away, in January.  The one time I remember snow at Christmas was in 1993 and it was big, gloppy flakes that melted upon contact with anything they touched but they sure put us all in the mood to sing, "I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas".     Never mind that it never accumulated, not even enough for a decent snowball.   We did get very cold weather that Christmas, just not a winter wonderland to go with it.   

So with such a lovely day before us, Larry and  I took a drive to Gulf Breeze on a short shopping trip in search of a new recliner for me.    Since we were so close we decided to go on a few more miles to Pensacola Beach.    Truthfully, the beach is only about a half hour drive from our house.   We are so accustomed to having this wonder of nature so close by that we often forget about going down there.    We really take it for granted except when a hurricane wipes the beach clean and flattens all the dunes so we don't even recognize the place.     The beach has definitely recovered from the last big blow that re-arranged the landscape down there.   It has even recovered (on the surface anyhow) from the BP oil spill of 2010.    

Beach visitors and shore birds (who live there!)
On the drive along Scenic Highway as we headed toward Gulf Breeze, we couldn't help but notice the flatness of Escambia Bay.   It was slick and smooth and Larry commented that he could have gone out there even in his tiny Porta-bote.      As we entered Pensacola Beach, we saw the sign that warned beach goers about the "moderate" surf.     The Santa Rosa Island Authority gives tourists and locals the heads up on the surf conditions every day with wise instructions on when it is safe to go in the water and when it is mandatory to stay out.  (Here's a hint for any of you who come here:    Rip tide days---high surf days--- are good days to stay on the beach and out of the water.)    

After seeing the calm waters in the bay, we were surprised to find a fairly vigorous surf when we got to the beach.     In fact, the noise from the waves crashing into one another made quite a smack and near booming sound while we stood at the water's edge admiring the water, the shore birds and the stunningly beautiful day we were privileged to be enjoying.     We watched one wave after another come rolling onto the beach and then retreat back only to be thrown back on the beach over and over again.   

Larry soaking up the sun.
Shells for the taking.
The beach was populated with a few locals and some tourists visiting here for the holidays.     Larry and I remarked what a great time it is to come to the beach since you could have your pick of choice spots to set up a chair or do a bit of surf fishing. And some folks were doing just that with some very long fishing poles, jammed tightly into the sand.   There were no drunken visitors making a nuisance of themselves.   No dogs running amok in the dunes.  The weather was so nice we did not even need a jacket or long sleeves.    In fact, if we had stayed much longer, we would have needed a wide brimmed hat and some sun screen.    

Marcia by the shore.

So I snapped some pictures, breathed in the salt air and just took in the free show that the Gulf of Mexico provides for us on a regular basis.    It struck me that even when I am back home in the quiet of my family room, when I am sleeping, when I am reading the newspaper, doing the most mundane, ordinary things, the waves and the tide go on.    The waves lap at the shore, sometimes in a great, crashing crescendo, other times gently kissing the sand.  Tide moves in--tide moves out.  It is eternal and doesn't need me to do what it does.   It just is.  

It never stops moving.
There are so many places like that in our world and we need to visit them from time to time to remind ourselves of the vastness of time and space.    We need to put ourselves into that scene to gain some perspective on our tiny part in all of it.     We have the power to protect this for ourselves and for those who will come after us.   If you have one of these great spaces near you, get out and enjoy it.    Take pictures and spend time breathing in the air and soaking up the beauty around you.     When you get the opportunity to do something to preserve that special place or donate money to those who are trying to save our mountains, meadows, forests, beaches, rivers and wetlands, think of what your world would be without them.   Then give what you can and do what you can to protect and save them.   And if you are so inclined, please comment and tell about your favorite spot to go when you need to renew your spirit and remind yourself of all the wonders and beauty of our world. 


  1. What a great post! It was warm here in Cary, NC today, too. What a beautiful world we live in!

  2. I miss the beach! We have some beautiful lakes here, but it's just not the same for someone who grew up on beaches. As for warm weather, we're expecting a balmy high of 46 here today. :-) The snow usually comes after the new year, but we did have a white Christmas here last year,although I was in Mobile in at the time.

  3. Beautiful descriptions, Marcia--it was like being there.

    The Australians we just left would wonder what you found strange about summer weather at Christmas--that's the only kind they've ever seen.


Please leave us a message! We want to hear from you and what you think. THANKS!