A few days ago, I started planning my beach day – based on the upcoming forecast, of course. Before this past weekend was over, I already knew where I would be spending my Tuesday…
It was 80 degrees today with a sky full of sunshine and only a slight breeze. It’s what most people, including myself, would call almost summer.
My plan was to build a cupholder in the sand for my iced coffee, flip open the reclining beach chair, and read a book until either a) I fell asleep, or b) I got bored. As expected, I neither fell asleep nor did I get bored and, to be honest, I couldn’t concentrate long enough to read more than one page at a time because the view was just so incredibly beautiful.
Nobody was there. It was like I practically had the place to myself, except for the out-of-towners who asked me to take their family photo and the grandparents who could barely keep up with their toddling grandson…(If there’s one thing I’ve learned from all of my beach observations, it’s that young kids are fearless, clueless, and very fast runners).
With the usual crowd of people still working or in school this afternoon, I found it easier to come across the usual crowd of critters. I was disappointed earlier as I strolled the boardwalk over the dunes because I had not yet seen a gopher tortoise or even found one of their burrows in the sand. Instead, I occupied myself with this gorgeous Gulf Fritillary, also known as a Passion Butterfly:
Oh, seagulls! These little guys, normally a nuisance, seemed to be lost without a collection of children harassing them or a family of picnickers to feed them scraps of their lunches. If you think about it, the one seagull looks to be ready for his close-up:
I spent nearly three hours reconnecting with the ocean this afternoon. It had been over a month since I’d felt the sand between my toes and the water crashing at my knees, but even then Matt and I were being pounded on by a Nor’easter! Today, at least, everything was quiet and subtle. You could even say it was perfect…because guess who I finally saw on my way back across the boardwalk over the dunes? Yep, he finally showed up – my gopher tortoise.
The gopher tortoise is a rather boring looking creature, but he’s an interesting fellow, nonetheless! These endangered animals can create a burrow deep in the sand dunes as long as 30 feet that lead into a spacious den between 20 to 50 feet across…I’d call that some nice square footage. They also feast on vegetation so they’re pretty helpful when it comes to spreading seeds!