Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Florida Flip Side

The howl of wind is an unbroken and relentless moan.

On most days of the year Florida’s east coast offers a benign climate of warmth and endless sunshine, brushed by the gentle hand of Mother Nature with afternoon showers and gentle breezes. But stay here long enough and another side soon sends a reminder that climate even in paradise is not always meant to comfort our fragile constitutions. That less friendly face has been our companion around here over the past several days. We’ve been spared the snowstorms making conditions as bad as those in the northeast, and neither have problems with power been our particular bad luck. Life on the eastern edge of Florida these past days has been more a battle with wind and water.

Warning flags are flying and rip currents are swirling, with windy conditions and rough surf describing the state of life on the beach this week. Surfers are attracted to the kind of wave action out there now, but this time there’s something about the current that is keeping everyone out of the water. Word is out that it’s going to stay with us for a couple of more days, wind blowing out of the northeast at about twenty miles and hour, with stronger gusts possible. Strong wind on Sunday and Monday blew piles of seaweed onto the beach, sending out teams of turtle specialists to comb the wrack for tiny hatchlings. Those that hatch on Florida beaches commonly swim out in the water and find patches of seaweed to cling to. When storms wash large amounts of seaweed onto the beach county officials search the seaweed for baby turtles. Wind gusts reached twenty-five miles per hour on Tuesday, bringing in more seaweed and keeping the risk of rip currents high

The nature of rip currents and the risk they pose to swimmers is not clear to many eager to fling themselves into rough water. The dangerous currents form when rough surf washes gullies into offshore sandbars lying perpendicular to the beach. The water rushing through those gullies can trap swimmers, carrying them quickly out to deeper water.

For many with homes just above the beach concerns about rip currents are secondary to the incessant baying of wind tearing over agitated ocean surf. It brings with it an assault of sound, a growing irritation with no ‘off’ button that blows multiplied doses of salt covering everything and leaving all but the hardiest of plants beaten down and half dead.

These are the days when all the attractive elements are missing and the summertime paradise of beach life seems a faraway place. Each day brings thoughts of escaping to a quieter place where windblown salt is not in season. The phone rings and it’s a lady from the local newsletter asking about the chances of an article on “Holidays at the Beach.” Laugh out loud.

1 comment:

  1. Whether sunshine or stormy, those elements of sky, water, and the edge of our world seemingly reduce everything down to basics. Yet it is the sky and its winds that rule over the other two, literally bending them to its will and mythologically sometimes relentlessly offering up a Siren song to lure sailors to their death.


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