Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Walk on the beach

The beach on the Gulf of Mexico is little more than 100 feet from the side door of the condominium apartment building where we reside. Oddly it was only today that I lingered on the beach for more than a few moments.  After having spent several hours this morning by the pool, sunbathing and swimming, I opted to go for a walk on the shore this afternoon. I directed myself southerly towards The Resort at Longboat Key Club which is nestled at the lower tip of the barrier island. It was there - less than a year ago - that we first visited Longboat Key and thus initiated our more prolonged winter sojourn here this year.

It is easy to overlook the beach because it is ubiquitous, whether looking out our apartment windows or sitting by the pool within immediate hearing of the crashing waves (sheltered by the sea grape bushes) or cycling along the bike paths.  The important difference between the beach on Longboat Key and the beach on Hilton Head Island or Ponce Inlet on the Atlantic Ocean is that one cannot bicycle on the beach here.  It is simply too powdery and soft. Because I generally detest walking (my wonky knees and unstable hips are a pain - literally) and because I adore my daily bicycle ride, by the time I survive the morning cycling constitutional I am ready only for lounging by the pool in the midday sun.  The scenery on Sarasota Bay (where several parks abound) is not unattractive as well, an alternative I have willingly learned to accept.

In an effort to widen my familiarity with the island I have detoured off the bike paths along a number of streets and alleys which extend like seigniorial properties from Sarasota Bay.  While many of those avenues are identified as private (and I make a point of respecting them accordingly) some are not. Others can be viewed from a distance without trespassing.

As captivating as they are however the circumspect views do not compete with the uninhibited personal experience of a walk on the beach. Whether it is the Red Tide or the agèd demographic of Longboat Key, the traffic on the beach (particularly in the immediate area of our residence - largely residential condominiums) is minimal. The shore itself is not private property but the beaches immediately adjacent the various condominiums are clearly identified as the private property of those particular resorts - most of which have a series of carefully maintained chaises longues and beach umbrellas.

The Red Tide (algae bloom - upwelling of aquatic microorganisms and nutrients from the sea floor caused by massive storms) was a veritable concern this summer. Since our arrival here on October 15th last we have endured several days of moderate respiratory irritation.  On a previous wander on the beach I saw a dead fish (small in size) about every forty yards.  Today there was only the occasional carcass of a fully eroded fish, not more than three along the entire distance of my mile walk.  The sea water appeared normal colour, certainly neither brownish or reddish. Though there have understandably been concerns raised by local businesses concerning this phenomenon (the tourism decline was immediate and palpable), it is generally accepted to be a worldwide occurrence, not one particular to this area only. I understand there are historical records of similar events in the past. As the temperatures slowly begin to decline (they were approaching 100℉ upon our arrival) there is a commensurate reduction of the Red Tide effects; and the common parlance is that it will naturally disappear.

What I like especially about the Gulf of Mexico adjacent Longboat Key is that the water is considerably rougher than when approaching the peninsula directly.  Longboat Key is a barrier island which separates the water from the main land mass; and as such it projects into the Gulf to a greater extent. It is this proximity to the sea which promotes its greater activity, almost similar to the more turbulent action of the waves on the Atlantic Ocean.

A walk on the beach is always the opportunity to indulge one's senses.  No book or oration can improve upon the natural sights and sounds of the sea, the roiling waves and shoreline crescendo.

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