Thursday, May 27, 2010

Summers on the Gulf

Each summer we would travel to the same plot of sand on the Gulf of Mexico. At one point the beach was named to the Top 10 Beaches of the World list because of the impeccable sand and gentle surf. The white sand was soft and would never get hot or too sharp with shells like the beaches to the north. We would walk for miles (or what seemed like miles to a little girl) collecting swirly shells as we went and letting the soft waves tickle our feet. Large sand castles were built with a wet drizzle of sand providing the fancy facade. Feet were buried and tans were perfected on lounge chairs. With the help of only a flimsy raft we would swim out to sand bars and collect sand dollars. Swimming to the sand bar was at once scary and exhilarating - as soon as I didn't think I could swim any longer in deep water, the sand bar materialised with reassuring shallow, clear water where I could see my feet. Almost every evening, sunburned and tired, we would feast on platters of oysters and baskets of peel and eat shrimp.

I remember crying one year when our week long vacation ended: Ohio is a lot of things, but the beach it's not. Now I tear up for the fisherman who are watching their livelihood disappear and for the sea animals who are contending with a confusing slick of oil where they are used to open water and perfect white sand beaches.

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