Editor's Note: We asked CultureMap staffers and contributors to recall their favorite moments of 2012. Katie Oxford remembers a beach scene that remains in her mind.
Water is a wondrous thing, especially at the beach in Seaside, Fla.
One day last August, Big Blue was also green and as clear as a swimming pool. Overhead, flocks of pelicans flew, one after another like glider planes. Flying easy like always, but under a blue sky with white clouds for stars.
I was in heaven — about to receive more. From my beach chair, I saw something break on the water's horizon. It was a porpoise. Then another. Seemingly at play, maybe just jumping for joy.
They were still springing out of the water when I ran to a child nearby, pointing toward the ballet before us.
From my beach chair, I saw something break on the water's horizon. It was a porpoise. Then another. Seemingly at play, maybe just jumping for joy.
The little girl, I learned, was Ella Grace Guidry. Through Ella, I met her family of five from Covington, La. The same five who I'd noticed the day before — were doing what beach lovers love to do. Going in the water, coming out, in and out all day long. Touching newfound treasures, sometimes tasting, lapping it all up but not taking. Liking sand. Wearing swim suits until the sun sinks.
I would spend the day with the Guidry family — like a kid at Disneyland. Only here, the rides were organic. Imagination fired from the color blue.
We walked down the beach to examine a huge shrub washing ashore dreaming that we were on an expedition. Ella became "First-mate." Her brother, "Captain Jack." Henry, the youngest, purely "Precious."
Our merry band of beachcombers grew. Twenty feet from shore, we settled atop a newly formed sand bar — the perfect perch for those who can never get too close to Big Blue.
Soon, a couple joined us — bringing their chairs from the beach like pulling up to a fireplace. "From Chicago," they said.
We lounged on the sand-made shelf — happy as seals. We took turns playing with our imagination . . . "If you lived in the ocean, what would you be?" You'd have thought we were kin. The kind you connect with.
At sunset — a picture was taken — the brilliance of the day beaming from our faces.
Since then, Devan and I have exchanged emails. The children, she writes, believe that I’m a "real mermaid."
So goes the magic of the beach. Love of sea — shared.