…the more things stay the same

It’s a beautiful North Florida fall day with plenty of sunshine, highs in the upper 60s, and the threat (promise?) of lows in the upper 30s tonight. My local weather alert text this morning urged everyone to “bundle up.” If I had ventured out today, I would no doubt have seen people taking that advice, wearing actual coats of the sort that northerners (and former northerners) reserve for December-March weather in the upper Midwest.

As a transplant from up north marking my first full year down here, I put on a long-sleeved shirt, opened the windows, and turned off the air conditioner that has run continuously since March. To me, the weather is perfect for a day of digging my desk out from under a mound of paperwork and catching up on my To Do list.

Item #1 – write a blog post.

Sigh.

So much to write…so little time. Fall is anniversary season for me. September held the anniversary of our relocation to our new home here. October featured my wedding anniversary and the first anniversary of the founding of my consulting company. And November 15th will mark one year of The Beach Writer blog.

I’ve learned quite a bit about blogging this past 12 months. Mostly I’ve learned that I blog more often in winter than in summer, or at least that’s how it seems at first glance. More accurate, I think, is that I blog more often when I only have a couple of projects going simultaneously, and fairly infrequently when I have completely overextended myself. This has been the case for me throughout my entire writing and publishing life. As much as I think I would like to change that, I can recognize that it’s unlikely.

What is more likely is that I slow down every once in a while to figure out where I am, reflect on what I’ve accomplished and encountered, and plot a course for where I think I want to go (always subject to change, of course).

I combined one of those slow down and think sessions with a beach walk shortly after Labor Day and realized something wonderfully comforting and, I think, amazing, about the beach. After a year of observation, through all four seasons, Nor’easters, tropical storms, seaweed invasions, and a seemingly endless string of sunny days packed with people, I realized that I was looking at a shoreline essentially the same as when I first saw it.

How could that be?

I could understand how it would look basically the same following sand erosion during storms. The sand diminishes and shifts, sure, but the basic slope from an upper level near the dunes that led steadily but gently to the waves remained the same. But something happened at the start of the summer that significantly altered the landscape, the Great Seaweed Event of 2012.

Just before the solstice in June, right as beach attendance was ramping up, I arrived at the beach to walk and found it covered in seaweed. Blanketed in seaweed. Carpeted, actually. Overnight, the sea had coughed up a thick layer of smelly vegetation that spanned the width of the beach nearly from the dunes to low tide line and stretching north and south as far as I could see. Local news ran stories and aired interviews with beach visitors put off by the smell and the sight, and beach caretakers trying to explain that they couldn’t remove the seaweed and wouldn’t even be able to move it until it dried out some.

The Great Seaweed Event, Jax Beach, 6/20/2012

Walking was a little difficult that day, and for the better part of the next week, but what happened next was fascinating. As soon as it had arrived it was gone, buried beneath a fresh layer of sand, and in its place was a ridge of sand running parallel to the shore. For most of the summer that ridge held, creating a multi-level beach. From the dunes to the high tide line was the upper level, and from there to roughly the midline between high and low tides, was a new middle level shelf. Then a sharp drop occurred to the low tide level below.

Jax Beach, July 2012, with new mid level hump from seaweed dump

That’s how the beach remained June through August. But shortly after Labor Day, as I walked and thought about the culmination of our first year living here, I realized that things had changed. The ridge was gone and once more the beach was a steady and gradual slope from dunes to sea. In fact, it looked almost exactly like it did when I first saw it, before the storm erosion and the seaweed explosion made their subtractions and additions.

Time had smoothed out the extremes.

Doesn’t it always?

A lot has changed for me over the past year. I relocated to a new region of the country, with a new climate. I started a business. I began and have nearly finished a book and have another one waiting for its turn. I started this blog and posted regularly and semi-regularly as life allowed.

And yet for the most part, my landscape and the ebb and flow of my days remain the same. I walk, I write, and I work among the sun, sand, water and words.

The more things change, the more they truly do stay the same, at least for me.

Jax Beach, fall, 2012

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