Friday, January 15, 2010

Cumberland Island :: The Beach

The trail meanders through the dunes, alternating between a sandy path and boardwalk. A small forest of scrubby trees and brush seems to create a barrier for the shifting sands of the dunes inhibiting their movement and helping to prevent them from encroaching further inland.

The tide was out so there was a large expanse of beach showing. The group of people off to the south was the first and last group I saw walking along the seashore that day. The building in the distance on the right side of the photo is a pulp mill on neighboring Amelia Island. It is the only “blemish” on an otherwise beautiful and distant horizon.

I had been walking along the hard-packed beach for over an hour and in that time had seen only two other people. Now, I was alone on the beach, listening to the surf moving in and out, watching the clouds go by, and being amused by the Sandpipers that scurried to and fro around the edge of the surf, occasionally stopping to grab a little something to eat.

There was hardly any wind and the sun came out for a short time then disappeared behind a thick layer of clouds. The warmth from the brief appearance of the sun was quite welcome though it was comfortable otherwise, especially with the four layers of clothing I wore. Not too cold, if you kept moving.

I noticed a portion of a large tree lying along the outer edge of the beach, near the dunes, and went to investigate. I don't know if the tree had drifted in from the ocean or what but all of the bark had been removed and only stumps remained where branches had been. Conveniently, one end made a very nice seat with two of the stumps creating a nice backrest. It was early afternoon so I sat down to eat my lunch.

Every so often the sun would pop out for a few minutes, brightening the day. To the north patches of blue sky occasionally appeared through the clouds.

But to the south there was a thick layer of clouds, which would eventually block out the sun for the remainder of the day, but not before providing a wonderful palette of blues and grays, along with some marvelous reflections.

The clouds reflected in the thin layer of water coating the sand appears to be steam rising from the surface, giving the beach that “other world” look.

A delicate white feather provides contrast against the gray, wet sand. Shells and other debris left by nature also “littered” the beach. I saw no man-made trash on the Island, so people seem to be heeding the call to “take nothing but pictures and leave nothing but footprints.”

To be continued . . .

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