Walking to the lonely beach on a gray and windy day.

A Walk In January

Since I love the winter months here on Anna Maria Island, I walk a lot when the temperatures are a bit lower. It can get quite cold here, especially on the beach. The sand dries up to a fine sugar powder when it has not rained in a while, so sheets of this fine grained powder are blown across the beach. It stings when you do not wear long pants.

In these pages about the gray day one January I will tell you the story of a brief late afternoon on this blustery day. It had rained in the morning, so the sand was pockmarked and hard. When I walked to the beach taking the winding path that allows access going through the dunes with their wild sea oats, I did not see many people. Usually the tourists are enjoying this time of year, but it was even too cold for our snow birds, as we lovingly call these visitors from the North.

The sun was hiding behind a curtain of gray, only vaguely showing a face. On days like these it is easy to keep the eyes open wide, so the usual sun glasses can stay home, but it is a good idea to protect the eyes with other glasses, the sand is just everywhere. The sand takes on a different hue as well: the moist sand is gray with the white dried powder sand blowing across it, the contrast showing off the speed of the wind.

Biting And Harsh Beauty

Usually I wrap a scarf around my mouth, the sand gets into it as well. After walking for a while in these conditions, sand collects in folds of the clothing, in seams of the shoes, on the camera as well. It is hard to protect this sensitive equipment on days like these. So I take the camera with me in a protective case and only take it out when I need to and the condition is not too bad. When the wind gets too strong, as the case is at the tip of the island where it blows from the North unhindered over the Gulf of Mexico, there is hardly a way to stay on your feet at all. So the camera stays in its case then. Too bad too, I bet I could have taken some interesting shots. But so it is with nature.

The wind is blowing the fine white sand in long ribbons.

Walking Is Hard Now

The wind kept on blowing that day, the sand collected in all sorts of little nooks. Sea weeds, foot prints, rippled sand left by waves that washed in with the tides. Not a bird was in sight, they too know not to venture out to the beach on a day like that. But I love the wildness of it, the fight to move and walk, laughing the wind into the face and admiring the beauty as well. Cloud shreds and bubbly clouds tried to tear and drift apart to let that sun shine through, for we have a rule here in Florida: there is never a day when the sun does not at least make an appearance, how ever short it might be.

Sea weeds are holding the blowing sand.

A Scaly Imprint

The look of the rippled sand is intriguing to me. I imagine that the sand seems to have been shaped by a huge reptile lying on its belly and sleeping for a long time, and the sound of the waves is the even snoring of this beast, ever breathing in and out, a hypnotizing reptile repetitiveness. And then it is gone, leaving just the wind that was too much even for the scaled creature to sleep comfortably in. The ever pushing wind has now filled in some of the scaly pockets with the white dusting again, soon to be washed away by the next tide. I walked on and found more to keep me curious.

Rippled sand left by the powerfully moving water of the sea.

It Felt Very Much Like Winter

As I walked on, it felt more and more like the winter I knew back in Germany. Often the winters there are without much snow for a long time, the wind howls and crawls into your ears. The same was happening on this walk. Only drifts of snow-like sand just like in my old home country. I tied my scarf even more around my head and pulled up the hood of my jacket. But the discomfort was not that bad, the interesting patterns that Mother Nature showed me were worth the effort.

The tracks of a dune buggy left by the patrol vehicle of the police again reminded me of that big reptile roaming the beach. Maybe the tail left an impression?

White sugar sand enhances the spoor that a dune buggy left.

It Seemed Like A lonely Place

Continuing towards the tip of the island, I stumbled onto the ruin of a sandcastle. Perhaps the big dragon had lived there once? My story spun on in my head as I walked along fighting the wind and marveling at the long ribbons of sand, the breath of the reptile visualized. Moving forward became increasingly difficult. But I pushed on expecting to see the creature any moment now.

A ruin of a sandcastle with a dusting of powdered sand.
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