A special place

"If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, it is a special place where I spend my afternoon."

Saturday, February 16, 2013

A Day at the Beach

Treasures from the Sea
An Ark
   January and February are the slowest months of the year on the island, and this year has been no exception.  Most people think it may be the economy, but I can't help but think the unpredictable weather we have also plays a part. Just because this is Florida, the island is far enough north that the winters can offer up some pretty cold weather.. It's gotten cold enough to freeze the pipes!
   But, this winter, so far, the weather has been wonderful. The temperatures have been above average and the sun has been shining more days than not. (Sorry about the cold y'all have had up north!)

The Estuary
   So, this time of year, the beaches are virtually empty and there's nothing like being on a beach you've got all to yourself. Time has no meaning and your imagination can run wild. 
It's impossible for me to walk on a beach and not pick up a few shells. Who am I kidding? Most of the time I carry a bucket!  But it's not just for shells. You never know what you're going to find.

   The gulf beaches are full of the common shells, like cockles, clams, scallops and arks of every size and color. Sponges, driftwood and a small piece of sea glass will occasionally wash up too. The beaches on the bay side are entirely different. 
The State Park
   The estuary, which is on the bay side of the island, isn't so much a beach, as it is an interesting coastline. You're not going to find any shells, but it's full of  treasures.  Pieces of pottery that the Indians made hundreds of years ago and  pieces of hurdy pots are a common find at the estuary. Hurdy pots were made back in the 1800's and used to collect turpentine from the pines trees. One of the most interesting things to find are the business ends of fifty caliber rounds.  This area was used as a practise firing range during the second world war.
   Probably, the most beautiful beach on the island, is the beach at the state park. There's a small fee to get into the park, and no dogs are allowed on the beach, so you'll see even fewer people there than the other island beaches. This beach was used for the 2012 Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition and named one of the top five most beautiful beaches in the world. 
    Not many shells wash up on this beach but it's the most likely place on the island to find sand dollars.    Occasionally you'll see the dolphins fishing along the coastline or just playing in the quiet wake. This is the one beach that I enjoy just sitting and letting my mind wander.

Cape (Little) St. George

    If you want to do some serious shelling, Cape (Little) St. George, is the place to go. This island was once part of the main island until dredging was done to make a shortcut (Bob Sikes Cut) for the shrimp boats going out to the gulf. There's no bridge, so the only way to get there is by boat.  Charter boat businesses will always take you to Little St. George if you sign up for a shelling trip.
    After Hurricane Debbie came through, the beach was littered with big beautiful shells like you see in the top picture. Huge conchs, tiger's eyes, angel wings, sand dollars, and a queen helmet were just a few of the finds. Getting the bags of shells, and large pieces of driftwood, back to the boat required a little muscle from the captain! 
   Most people look for that perfect conch, or any big shell that has made it to shore without breaking. But unless you go to the beach right after a big storm surge, those shells aren't easy to find. But, some of the most beautiful treasures are so small, if you don't stop and really look, you're going to walk right over them. I've picked up sand dollars that are less than 1/4 inch in diameter. And shells so small, you could fit a dozen in a thimble.  

   Shelling and beach combing are two different things. Beach combing is something you can do when you've got nothing but time. Beachcombers aren't looking for just shells, they're looking for anything interesting, big or small, that the sea has to offer.

Sea Glass
   Sea glass is something else that sometimes washes up. But this too is something you'll find only if you stop and take a closer look. It's found mainly in the shale, or ground up shell that mounds up on the beach. Sea glass is glass that has been tossed around with the shale and sand for so many years that the edges are no longer sharp and the glass has become cloudy. On occasion, you might find a really old bottle, that by some miracle, has survived all the tossing around and remained in one piece. I've been lucky enough to find a few at the estuary in the winter months when the tides are at their lowest .

  So, if you were wondering why you hadn't seen any new posts on the blog lately, the beach has been very demanding. And when there's nobody around to run you off, time has no meaning. It's a lonely job, but somebody's got to do it!                                                                                                     


  1. Beautiful JoEllen! I enjoy your writing so much I think you should write for St George Island! You seem to be their biggest cheerleader!
    Love you!

  2. It is a tough job but someone has to do it. Great job! Love the sea glass. thank you for sharing the shore walk. Reg