Sunday, February 4, 2018

Au bord de la mer

The temperature today rocketed to 78℉. There was a correspondingly warm wind out of the south. It softened everyone. A funnel of balmy air poured along the beach. Occasionally there were inexplicable pockets of cooler fresh air - perhaps off the Ocean. The heat heralds what is to come. I am full of anticipation to feel the tingling rays of the sun. The mildness of the air stirred me to bicycle further than I had intended.  It was too delicious to contemplate retreating! The gentleness drew couples and children from their seclusion.  A large kite flew high in the sky. Others walked in the water on the shore to consummate their baptism. Seagulls soared like jets into the soothing wind.

At the rock pier in Ponce Inlet a sizeable number of surfers also congregated, stretching and bending, preparing themselves like ballet dancers for their performances.  I wondered to myself whether they communicate with one another to orchestrate their congress.  Do they instead consult the Tide Chart and the weather forecast?  Or is it a mere glance at the sea that tells them all they need to know? Today is Sunday - Super Bowl Sunday - but its popularity clearly did not interfere with the focus of the surfers. A succession of them streamed onto the beach along the boardwalk from the park at the southern point of the barrier island.  They were dressed in their wet suits and carried their surf boards which they subsequently secured to their ankle by a cord. I parked my bike along the pier and walked its length to get a closer look.

It surprised me that there were not more cyclists on the beach.  In the five miles to Ponce Inlet I only saw one couple cycling.  I am guessing they had just arrived as they were still white-skinned and gleefully waved to me as we passed on the beach.

There were frequent collections of sea gulls, pelicans and other sea birds wading in the lapping waves of the receding tide.  They experience the same congestion as we all do until the low tide.  I too was compelled to cling to the immediate shore to avoid the softer, wetter sand closer to the dunes. I am always careful not to disturb the fowl any more than necessary when cutting through their clusters.  Most of the birds are obviously accustomed to humans.  When trying to distance themselves, the birds comically walk on an angle further into the sea facing into the wind, careful to preserve their optimum strategy for sudden flight.  It amuses me they prefer to conserve energy by walking instead of flying. Many of them stand about on one leg but quickly drop the other when required to move along.

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