The old man in the sea

When one’s régime is abated to breakfast, bicycling, dinner and bed, there’s a need for middling enlargement. Luckily for me the illumination is at hand; namely, the Gulf of Mexico. On almost every level of my sensibilities the sea is paramount. It speaks to my love of nature, to my poetic inclinations, to my physical ambitions and my native senses of smell, taste, sight, touch and sound. I therefore knew unequivocally that the sea was a port of call today. A succinct dawdle overlooking Sarasota Bay was my springboard.

The Bay is undeniably picturesque but it doesn’t compete with the thrill of the sea.

There are various avenues by which to access the beach along Gulf of Mexico Drive. I chose the entry across from Neptune condominiums. It is slightly less popular than many of the others. I parked my bike in a wooden rack and locked it. The walk from the parking lot across the white sandy beach path over the dunes onto the descending beach was a blissful introduction.

Several people were already stationed nearby on the beach. There was a group of about three couples who, judging by the depth of their respective tans, make a regular ceremony of lounging by the sea. To the right of me was a couple who had just arrived as I was parking my bicycle. They had carried with them small folding chairs in which they now reclined.

I positioned myself between these people, depositing my shoes (in which I secreted my Apple watch, iPhone, lip balm and sunglasses) on the sandy beach close to the dunes, then covered them all with my jersey. Thus prepared for the sea, I approached the shore and tested the water. It was cool but not cold. I submerged myself, relishing the instant refreshment. It was a sacramental communion!

Keeping a watchful eye upon my personal belongings – partly for security and partly for location – I combined diving, swimming and floating. I looked up and down the coast. It was a pleasing view of water, sand, sea birds, palm trees and characteristically subtropical homes. At one point while floating on my back I faced directly into the sun, the vast blue dome and distant horizon the only things above the glittering green sea. My baptism was complete!

When I returned to the beach I lay down upon my blue and white striped jersey. The repose was tolerable. The warm sun soothed me. I didn’t get up without having first cooked my backside as well. Then I went back into the sea to remove the fine white sand on my body. The economy of my venture pleased me.

So stoked was I by this nautical adventure that my bicycle ride back home was all the more pleasurable. I even overshot my usual route just to prolong the sunshine. It constituted an accomplishment in my mind to have established what I have no doubt will be a repeated activity.