It’s been almost three years since I vacationed at the Emerald Coast Gulf Beaches in Florida.  How did I let this happen?

I’ve been here every year for the past thirty years.  Even in my depths of despair, pressured by work requirements, or tempted to go to Europe, I came, searching for and finding that big dose of peace.  beach

I had forgotten what those first few moments of reconnecting with sand and surf could do for my soul.  It is in this time when the sounds of the ocean’s waves lulls my spirit to calmness — a letting go…a release.

Soon the beach is filled with people.  A father and son throw a football to each other while they attempt to navigate the waves of the ocean. The ball spirals one to the other as the son shouts to the father, “You’re no Jalen Hurts!”  The father responds, “You’re no Peyton Manning!”  Eventually the ball is intercepted by crashing waves that giggle as it claims the ball and runs for shore.

Gentle puffs of  clouds rise over the horizon stirring my dormant inspiration, teasing with the promise of an afternoon rest.  My eyes grow heavy as the sounds of children drift to my serene state.  Little girls squealing as only little girls can, high pitched and excited as they shout, “Daddy, Daddy, Daddy!”

Mothers ensure their toddlers are covered in long sleeve t-shirts and hats, protecting their young skin from the dangers of the ultra-violet rays of the sun.  Yet they bask in those same risky rays clad only in bikinis, confident the sun will be kind to them now — and in the future. Didn’t we all, I think.

Two preteen boys walk by, deep in conversation.  “Are there sharks in the water?” one asked.

“Nah, there’s a blue flag flying today which means there’s no marine life sighted,” his friend responds.

“What about flesh eating bacteria?” the first one persists.

“That’s only in polluted rivers,” his friend responds.

Their audience, the seagulls weigh in as they dive toward the water, protesting over this sad state of understanding.  The boys continue down the beach.  No worries.

A solitary plane flies low, the droning of its engine capturing enough attention to pull the eye upward to the banner that flies behind it: “Floyd’s 50 cent Oysters.”  My taste buds tease me with the desire for those cool morsels covered in spicy horse radish sauce.  I quickly Google Floyd’s to see what time I need to get there before they run out of those fifty cent oysters.

The puffy clouds are closer now, expanding higher in the sky, their edges jagged as the grayness begins to seep across the sky. The waves are stronger as they slap the shore, leaving remnants of seaweed, a reminder of turbulence within the coming storm.

The young mother next to begins to gather her son’s toys, “Time to go Charlie,” she says.  Charlie is holding a fish net as he runs toward the water, a purpose to be fulfilled.  She catches him as he rushes by, “But mommy I got to…” he protests.

“You got to get these toys up,” she says.

But why?” he persists.  She points toward the darkening clouds rolling toward us as a steak of lightening sends a warning.

“Because that,” she said, pointing in the direction of the rolling clouds,” will soon be here,” she finishes, pointing toward the sand beneath their feet.  “Understand son?”

Dropping his chin to chest, he mumbles, “Un..der..stand.”

Since Mother Nature likes to keep us guessing, the storm  waited until 10:45 p.m.  It began with a hint of thunder in the distance.  Then heat lightening lit up the entire horizon which soon included jagged spears of lightening, illuminating the skies like a fourth of July fireworks show.  The thunder alternated from angry growls to booms of excitement as rain pelted the windows.

Oddly enough, my dog, Teddie, slept through this storm that normally would have caused him to shiver uncontrollably.  If he’s not worried, I’m not worried.

This is a good place to be on my first day at the beach.  How good is that?