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DOYLE: Today is a good day for the beach

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A lifelong love of sand and surf is wistful memory on snowy, cold day.

By Steve Doyle

My younger daughter, when she was maybe 1 or 2, had this CD that played constantly in her mother’s vehicle. The cover song was “Let’s Go To The Beach.”

Today we all stand as the amen chorus to that anthem.

Indeed, let’s go to the beach.

Even if you don’t like sun, sand, wind, oil, heat or the sometimes runaway crabs and flies, you have to admit that you would trade what you feel outside your doorway today for just a few hours of all of that.

Wasn’t Tuesday morning a lovely commute? Isn’t this morning just so balmy and breezy? Doesn’t it make you envious of your neighbor who has spent the past few weeks in Fort Myers, Fla. (yes I have one who has)?

I never was any good at sarcasm. People always took me too literally because of my constantly frowning countenance or something.

Anyway, I miss the beach frequently, but today even more so.

We had winter last week, didn’t we? That should be enough. Let’s go on to spring training and March Madness and the Derby trail and tulips and daffodils and sunshine. You with me?

OK, I really don’t mind the snow and prefer it by a googol-to-one over that soggy, cold winter rain. Give me the white stuff. I’ll deal with the roads. I hate the black goo.

But I love the seashore.

I have had a romance with the water and sand since I was a mere lad, when my folks sometimes would expand our annual family vacation to see my grandmother in Mississippi by driving to the Gulf Coast. These items also formed my baseline view of the vast oceans of the world. I assumed all sand was white and all water was warm and shallow. It was perfect. I wanted to stay there.

But all beaches are not created equal.

I came to understand that because I spent more than half my life living with an hour of a salt sea, which was no small coincidence. Once I was planted near the sand, it was difficult to pry me out of there. Only home could do that.

That doesn’t mean that there aren’t some granules behind my ears and between my toes.

Summer trips sometimes temper the withdrawal, but on a day like today, escaping would be a great way to endure, a great day to remember, what someone called those halcyon days of old.

During my decades in Florida I came to love a slice of sand that isn’t on the beaten path of tourism. New Smyrna Beach is separated from overdone Daytona Beach by an inlet and from the intensely protected Kennedy Space Center by a national seashore.

I have run for miles upon miles along that beach, to both its tips, and I marveled at the way it changed, how the tides affected its surfaces, how the wind blew into its dunes.

Even though some of those 20 miles or so have abhorrent cars parked along the dunes and condos, there is much peace to be found among houses and restaurants and places to hang out. Those were the days.

I have tried Florida’s beaches all the way around. I have been to the Bahamas, to California, to the crags of Oregon and Maine. I’ve dipped my toes in the Mediterranean and cast at least my eyes on the South China Sea.

And each has had something to offer, something to sustain, a story to tell, a moment to offer.

Cat Island in the Bahamas, the southernmost island, is a paradise, with one paved road and no chain establishments. If you wanted to hide from the world, there’s a small stone hut at Fernandez Bay Village that puts the foot of your bed no more than 15 or 20 feet from the gentle lap of the lee side of the island. You can be at one with that ocean, night and day.

You can take a kayak and paddle into inlets so complex that you could get lost in mere minutes, across blue holes so dark and endlessly deep that they make your heart beat faster. You can snorkle and swim and immerse – literally – in every aspect of that calmness, or cross the island and experience the crashing waves and mercurial wonder of the full tides.

But all of that might not be for you, might not be what you like about beach time or what would choose if a genie could zap you away today.

I once dispatched a reporter and photographer to tour the perimeter of Florida and map the best beaches. They spent days in a car, soaked up every aspect, but their’s was an imperfect report because each individual’s canvas can be painted with different strokes and hues.

I knew a man who once wanted to experience the vacant and pristine span of the Canaveral National Seashore from the space center northward. He walked 12 miles by himself, saw barely a person for most of that span, had to take his shoes and supplies in hand and swim across a canal.

Can you imagine such wonder? He was as if the original Spanish soldier in search of the Fountain of Youth.

You can’t do that in many places around that state, but wouldn’t you like to give it a shot? I always wished that I had.

Today would be a good day, I think.

Slop on the sunscreen, grab a good hat and amphibious shoes, and off we go.

Let’s go to the beach.

You can find other columns by Editor Steve Doyle at www.SentinelNews.com/columns.