Though I certainly have been to the beach many times since our arrival on Longboat Key last October today was oddly the first time I feel I spent a day at the beach. My mission this morning wasn’t as qualified. I started on my bicycle by going to Lido Key in the same manner as I have done a number of times before. Not long into the cycle however I began to formulate the decision to investigate another part of the beach than the one at the south end to which I usually go. This modification required some investigation; specifically to see whether there were a rack on which to secure my bicycle. Almost by accident I found one secluded appropriately enough near the entrance. There was only one space left on the rack. I took it.
My initiation to this part of the beach on Lido Key was as pleasurable as the entire morning had so far been with the added ingredient of unanticipated delight. The expanse of the beach in this particular area competed with the beach at Siesta Key where my erstwhile physician has his places. The beaches along Longboat Key are much narrower. This venue on Lido Key was beyond compare.
I was unaccustomed to having to walk so far to get close to the shore of the Gulf of Mexico. I say this not because I am indolent but because walking with my disintegrating spine is a positive chore. My innate pride compels me as well to do everything possible to appear less than a cripple but I doubt whether I am fooling anyone. In any event I resolved to position myself close to the sea so that I could remove myself for a swim without worrying overly about the sanctity of my few personal possessions.
Not unexpectedly at just after 11:00 o’clock in the morning I was among the first to arrive. On my way to the shore I passed several people who had already taken up roost by the remote sand dunes where presumably they had the benefit of some higher land and the semblance of unwritten privacy.
I wasn’t long succumbing to the warm sunshine and the balmy breeze. The seagulls squawked and the sea crashed and roared. Imperceptibly I conditioned myself to the beach vernacular of sloppiness, sandy limbs and apparent disregard for the inconveniences and demands of life. My dedication was entirely to translate myself to a burnished piece of seaweed.
Between occasions of rolling over to cook one side or another I amused myself by watching passers-by, a para-sailor and a kite surfer and familiarizing myself with the environment generally. I also was the first in the immediate area to go into the sea. The water was divine. It was only with reluctance that I got out of the water and returned to my sandy position on the beach. But I returned to the water not long afterwards – as did a number of others.
I was distracted in particular by a young couple and their baby boy. They all ventured cautiously into the sea amid some expression of hesitancy by the little boy. They were not the only young family on the beach. Nor might I add was I the only old fogey – many others of whom like I had long ago abandoned any embarrassment of their protuberant bellies (a misfortune partly modified by the almost universal exaggeration of tans which they had succeeded to produce after periods of vacation clearly longer than the younger interlopers).
It was after 3:00 o’clock in the afternoon that I completed my final dip in the sea and put on my striped blue and white jersey to head home. I was so animated by the experience – and the weather was still so favourable – that I ended prolonging my bicycle ride home by another 8 kms for a total today of about 23 kms. In the result it is difficult to fathom a more agreeable way to spend one’s time – at this or any age for that matter.