Sunday, March 27, 2011

Cityscape, Seascape

For many years the background in my life was a near constant rush of people moving against a neon and concrete cityscape, sights and sounds always shaped by the human element in action with an architecture of steel and stone. But sight and sound are vastly different now and several months in a small town coastal setting has altered my perception of that around me and I have come to see sand, ocean and sky with the same degree of clarity that once defined a view of Tokyo.

According to the calendar the days have tilted toward spring, season of my arrival in Florida last year. Not quite a full cycle of days and seasons since that arrival, but the one-year mark is drawing near and sights around here begin to look familiar, begin to show a hint of the colors and textures I remember from my first month at the beach. It’s clear to me now that whatever tilt the earth and season take along this windy southern coast the palette is constantly shifting in ways that require more than casual observation to gain the fullest appreciation.

Winter has faded from the ocean water off this coastline and deep currents of blue-green have returned, swelling up from the south and bringing to the ocean a look of verdigris, a color I remember from my first week here last May. Along with that are bleached white ruffles of foamy surf spilling clean onto the sand. During these days of spring break and larger numbers of beachgoers, swimmers with a tolerance for cold water are not in short supply, though most recoil from the shock of a chilly 66°.

No signs yet of the cumulous cloud heaps that characterize warmer days, but at least the gelid skies of January have given over to what could be called a spring blue. On this Saturday we’ve had to make do with thin striations of white cloud all high above the horizon. A pretty sight this afternoon, three vintage planes flying in low formation back and forth across a long stretch of greeny ocean stirred by the play of dolphins, seven in all.

For long weeks the beach has every day been an unsullied reach of pure white, with rarely so much as a dropped drinking straw. So too have the numbers of jellyfish washed ashore grown small. For consecutive days I walked my three miles without sight of more than one or two stranded jellyfish, a mere scattering of shells and complete absence of litter. The last part of that description has changed with the crowds arriving over spring break. Litter is to be expected from children on holiday with parents in holiday mode and relaxed discipline. On the good side, we are fortunate to have regular patrols of trash handlers who do an excellent job.

For reasons I can’t explain, the pelicans have been flying in record numbers, more than I can recall ever seeing before. Is it a late March-early April phenomenon? What makes the usual summer flock of about ten, swell to three times that in early spring? I watched a line of almost twenty earlier today flying in a staggered line, six inches above the water without a wingbeat.

What once was a city-mapped perception of the scene around me has now become attuned to landscape on a different scale. I enjoy now a slowly developing appreciation of the monthly changes in this oceanfront environment I still call new.


  1. Wonderful description of your sights and sounds! Lovely post today....and and day to wish you a Happy Birthday.

  2. Happy Birthday neighbor! Sorry we're not there to go out to dinner - but we will later on. Loved today's post - lovely photo. I've noticed the change in the number of pelicans, too. I hope they stay for a while. I love to watch them play during the day and "patrol" in the late afternoon. Have a wonderful day.

  3. Wonderful descriptions of the environs around you. It makes this reader (and surely others) long for sand between the toes and a vista of those pelicans gliding effortlessly on air currents so close to that blue/green ocean. Only a couple of reasons so many view the beach and ocean as paradise. You are a lucky beachcomber.


About Me

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Oak Hill, Florida, United States
A longtime expat relearning the footwork of life in America