The Beach

The farther north you go in Florida, the more southern things become. Northern Florida definitely has its own flavor. And nowhere is that more true than here in Panama City Beach, queen city of the Redneck Riviera.

Like coastal towns throughout the southeast, the town boasts a healthy assortment of hotels, restaurants, and shopping areas. The restaurants lean more toward sit-down and order-from-the-menu than all-you-can-eat buffets. The menus revolve around seafood–fried mostly–at prices I’d call reasonable.  Go-cart tracks, miniature golf courses, human slingshots, arcades, and more offer alternatives to the pool and beach scenes.

The beach is beautiful with dazzling white sand and clear turquoise water as far as the eye can see.  Sinking into the light and fluffy sand of the dunes makes the going slow. A steep grade eliminates any advantage from the more firmly packed sand along the water’s edge. I’ve been told this is a temporary situation resulting from beach restoration projects conducted earlier this year. I can deal with it, but I’d definitely prefer a flatter beach.

Honestly, if I had my druthers, give me a pool with an ocean view. Call me sissy if you want, but I like to relax in the water without fear of what might attack me. Since missing my chance to interact with a jellyfish by inches two days ago, I’ve stayed at the pool.

We took a long walk on the beach first thing the morning after our post-sunset arrival. There aren’t many people, even around the big hotels. Here in the residential area, we just about have the beach to ourselves. Nice.

I haven’t seen any shells. But hundreds of palm-sized pale blue fish massed just behind the small waves breaking gently along the shore. As the water receded, my partner pointed to the cause of the feeding frenzy: millions of inch-long shrimp larva writhing on  the sand. The shear quantity boggles the mind, and that’s just on this one small section of beach. I’ve never seen anything like it.

Farther out, silvery fish the size of baseball bats leaped from the water, roiling beneath the surface. In the distance, too far off to identify, solitary dark shadows cruise through the water. Shore birds of every size and description join the feast.

Since that first walk on the beach, we haven’t seen the little blue fish or the shrimp larva they were eating. My partner has been coming here his entire life and he doesn’t  remember seeing them before. No doubt it happens countless times every year. But for me, it happened just that one time. And it was beautiful, and it made me appreciate the bounty of the life I have here on this magnificent planet back home in…

My Glass House

2 responses to “The Beach”

  1. We have a house nearby on an island where all of nature’s raving beauty can be darkened by a carpet of jellyfish and a swarm of those god-awful biting black flies! We’ll have to meet halfway, in Apalachicola, sometime for dinner.