There was no spring break to speak of. We had an abbreviated period of debauchery replete with kegs of beer and citations for youthful offenders. But this year was different.

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We went to the beach last week. Not the day it opened, but on the weekend and during the prescribed hours. May is not an unusual time for the first trip of the season. We normally wait until after the spring breakers have relinquished their stranglehold on the property anyway. But this year was different.


There was no spring break to speak of. We had an abbreviated period of debauchery replete with kegs of beer and citations for youthful offenders. But this year was different.


The weather was pleasant, we had a mild spring with calm weather. There were a few thunderstorms, even a suspected tornado which damaged some business signs, fences and power lines. But this year was different.


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Traffic presented no problems. In fact, it was almost non-existent even though gas is selling at a price that we haven’t seen since Bill Clinton was president. Roads were empty and gas tanks were full. But this year was different.


This year college kids were sent packing because of a pandemic. In spite of perfect tanning weather, we were warned against public gatherings. Beaches, sporting events, nightclubs and restaurants were shunned as potential areas for passing on a virus. Foreign travel was banned in many cases and local trips were discouraged. Yes, this year was very different.


So last weekend, when we took off our shoes and took our first walk on the beach it was very different. The sand seemed whiter; the sand squeaking underfoot was more refreshing. The gulf was flush with beautiful shades of color. The shallow toffee-colored sandbars gave way to the deep cerulean waters beyond, even the occasional patch of seaweed was a welcome sight.


There were small boats making cobia runs just offshore. Some paddle boards were splashing just beyond the breakers. We walked a half mile in one direction and then turned into the setting sun to walk the other way. There was flotsam mixed with small shells strewn along the waters edge. Everyone was mindful of social distancing. But before we left there were hundreds of people enjoying nature … again.


This year was different. But the difference made the first trip to the beach better.


See all of Steve Ashmore’s blogs.