I drove down to the Florida panhandle today to spend a few days at the beach. Naturally, I left my camera cable at home, so I can't post any real-time pictures, but this is a photo from my last trip here. White sand, emerald water, blue sky.
I'm glad for a few days during which to listen to the waves and feel the sun and the breeze, to walk along the water line and watch the pelicans and skimmers cruising in lines a few feet above the waves and the terns fishing dive-bomber style, to enjoy the little sanderlings running so quickly along the water's edge on their short little legs like little wind-up toys, to hear the laughing gulls making fun of everyone else as they wheel above the sand, looking for crabs and stuff kids leave behind. The beach is restorative to me in ways no other place is. I know the mountains do it for some people, but I need the crashing waves (or even not so crashing - the Gulf is pretty tame compared to many other beaches) and the sand and water and marine wildlife. I'm sitting here writing this with the sound of the waves in the background, letting the rhythm pushing stuff out of my head that needs to get swept clean. I have a fair amount of time at home to think about things, but it is good to think about things in a different environment, too.
It makes me sad to think about the places west of here that are threatened by the oil gusher. (I notice people keep calling it a "spill" but that doesn't seem to be quite right.) I love the marshes and marsh birds, the shrimp and crawfish, the function the wetlands and bayous and shores play in the coastal ecology and grieve for all the coastal environment that is already or will soon be devastated. And yet I drove down here in my car (I do get decent mileage, but still...) and am as guilty as the next person for expecting to have unlimited personal mobility. I can just hop in and drive off without making too much of the connection between my beach trip and the fact that oil companies are drilling in more and more fragile areas in order to slake the world's thirst for fuel.
At any rate, I am thankful for the opportunity to be in this place right now.