I've been neglecting the beach. In between lots to do, chilly weather and the vestiges of the Red Tide cough-inducing algae menace, poor Golden Beach somehow slipped through the net. But the other day I made amends. You are so lucky, I had to remind myself, we have our own neighbourhood beach just a short stroll away. It seems somehow ungrateful not to take advantage.
So I took myself off with a beach chair and a book and sat in my favourite place, as the little ruddy turnstones picked and pecked their way around me, friendly and fearless, looking for goodies in the sand, while, out over the water, pelicans plunged like knives into butter. Far away on the horizon fishing boats chugged past. And in the middle distance, a pair of dolphins gamboled along, close enough to see the sleek oily black of their backs. Their fins still make me nervous. A friend of a friend saw one for the first time and screamed, "Shark!" Everyone laughed but she had a point. A fin is a fin, even on an innocent dolphin. And there are sharks here of course, not all of them prehistoric and benignly surrendering their teeth to the searching tourists and their rakes.
I know I should do this more often. But I realise that, over the years, I've slipped out of the excited, romantic phase that is tourist mode. The main thing about our beach is that it's there - to sit on in the sunshine and walk along in the quiet dawn and meet friends to gaze at the sunset. A bit like living in London and not going to the theatre for ages but being constantly reassured that, should I want to go, the theatres are there. And should I want to go, our beach is there. What a luxury.