There’s been a lot said and written in the past several years about the Gulf coast. “In the wake of Katrina” and “the aftermath of Deepwater Horizon” are phrases that now elicit a Pavlovian response in me when I hear or read them: I tense up and get ready for more bad news. Miraculously, the Gulf coast of Florida was lightly touched – at least physically – by these disasters, although the specter of oil blobs on the beach was enough to scare away a goodly number of tourists, even as far away as here in southwest Florida.
I was glad last fall to visit the “panhandle” of the state, Grayton Beach, a mere 112 miles east, as the frigatebird flies, from Mobile Bay. Sugar-sand beaches, same as I know so well, but hemmed with tall sand dunes topped with sea oats and dwarf sand oaks. Salt lakes sneaking in behind the dunes; pines taller than the buildings buffering the whole system from roads. I get goosebumps just thinking about it!
Despite being with a big crowd of fabulous friends, there was a sense of solitude there that comes standard equipment with pines and dunes. As a not entirely unexpected surprise, the days were warm, which relaxed everyone and made quiet walks alone with my camera actually doable.