On a Beach Walk: #59 (Sunsets)

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I like walking the beach. It’s good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

Although the sun is high as I walk toward the west, the sun will set in a few hours.

Personally, I favor sunrises over sunsets – an event that only we early birds see. Whereas the sunrise appears as the faint music we hear arising from the quiet that continues crescendoing until its midday peak, the sunset is the corresponding decrescendo that fades away into the silence of the night.

Sunrise is a time when we patiently watch the sun without squinting – without worry of harm – a time when we are taken by its peacefulness and feeling of comfort.

However, now I wonder: Will today’s sunset be brilliant? Time will tell, so now I think of the time of day that captures many hearts – sunsets.

Sunset is a time when blues, pinks, yellows, and oranges paint a beautiful picture that is also unique. A time when colors depend on the presence of particles, water droplets, and just enough clouds in the sky to display the day’s final brilliance.

Sunset is a time when the shadows are long and point to the east – but they will soon disappear into the dark – very soon.

Sunset is a combination of fascination and melancholy that says goodbye to the day, then hello to a new evening.

Sunsets mark the end of the day and the beginning of a time to rest. But for the night owls, the day is young as they will embrace the dark.

Sunsets over the water our sensual as we watch the lowering sun softly and slowly kiss the sea. The sun appears as a candle drip that disappears while leaving a brilliant light in the west while darkness is engulfing the sky from the east.

Sunsets symbolize the end of one’s life. Starting at the birth of sunrise, our life is the sun’s arc across the sky. A life full of ups and downs – happiness and sadness – successes and failures – a journey when we interacting with many – even influencing some. As our sun disappears, our memories live on in those who remain – yet in time, most of us will be forgotten – simply fading away as the sun that never rises again.

The sun is gone, but the bright sky of dusk remains as a distant bonfire celebrating the passing day that is now a memory.

While the sunset is full of wonder, mystery, and symbolism, I will watch today’s sunset with a renewed sense of its meaning – all because I like walking the beach for it is good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

On a Beach Walk: No. 52 (Sight)

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I like walking the beach. It’s good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

I think of our eyes – those two moveable spheres on the front of our face looking straight head while other organisms have them on top of their head.

I think about the importance of the eyes in balance – the way we keep our eyes on the single rail as we attempt a balanced walk on a railroad track.

I think of the eyes and the sense of sight that they initiate. That upside down, mirror-reversed image that red, green, and blue sensors on the retina of each eye detect – and these messages are the ones that our brain interprets and puts it together as the one image of what we see.

I think of sight as the one sense most of us fear losing. Some of us have lost the sight that others never had while others have experienced threats their eyesight. Ever wonder how people cope with losing vision after they had it?

Ever wonder what those with a visual abnormality see? The colorblind, whether red-green, blue-yellow, or even the monochromatic? Or the limited views caused by glaucoma or cataracts? It’s hard to imagine visual problems for those eyes aren’t mine.

Color is all around us. All the color we see is based on light signals received by those three sensors – yet we see so many colors. Somehow, a person with monochrome vision can be a painter of vibrant color.

Eyesight – that mechanism that puts a world in front of us to see – to interact with, to note danger, and more. But those are only true if we take the time to look – to notice the world and its detail found directly in front of us. Otherwise, we won’t notice what our eyes see. Then again, our biases, perceptions, and distractions influence our interpretation of the visual scene.

Whereas the eyes gather light’s input of our world, our vision is a gift from our mind that is a higher level and purpose of vision. Perhaps this is what Helen Keller meant when saying, “The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision.”

The eyes – those two small spheres that show emotion, interest, confusion, confidence, insecurity, and more. The locking of eyes can be a special moment – that is transcending what one sees to another level of emotion.

No matter where we are, our lives are surrounded of things to see, but do we take time to notice what is around us – even directly in front of us. After all, awareness is a conscious activity. But for everything there is to see, we cannot see without light.

There is much to see when I walk the beach, and my observations are in many beach walks – but this remains unchanged – I like walking the beach is good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

On a Beach Walk: No. 49 (Taste)

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I like walking the beach. It’s good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

Take your pick – think about your favorite food – or your most recent meal – or what are you going to eat at your next meal. Better yet, how would you describe its taste? Think beyond a mere similarity and contrast statement as it tastes like chicken.

Taste is not superfluous – taste is both serious and fun. Chefs pride themselves on achieving a certain taste in their culinary creation, yet how many of us take time to taste beyond the obvious that is associated with chewing and swallowing?

We make conclusion statements as I like it or not – but can explain why? Can we distinguish and describe flavors? That’s when taste is serious and fun!

I think about how taste serves as a protection mechanism against poisons while serving as a basis for cravings. Babies not like bitter, but over time, the same person may end up enjoying coffee.

I think about how a sommelier is trained to distinguish flavors in wine – while to some wine drinkers, simple terms in tasting notes as fruity, dry, oaky, citrus, and more may be reasons to like or dislike a wine. In school we learned about taste as sweet, sour, salty, and bitter. Today, we add savory (umami) to that list. However, have you ever tried to describe the taste of a cherry to someone who can’t distinguish tastes? Better yet, to someone without a sense of taste?

Taste is serious and fun – yet to living things with that ability, taste is about meeting nutritional and survival needs. For we humans, taste starts with nerve endings primarily located on the tongue.

I like black licorice – and that means I also enjoy raw fennel – but that distinct taste is not for everyone. On the other hand, I consider the taste of caraway seeds as evil – but others love it. I didn’t enjoy sauerkraut as a kid – but today I have ways of accepting the taste. So I wonder, how much of our personal preferences lie in our DNA versus how much is learned?

I’m of Italian descent, so some automatically assume I’m a lover of garlic. Well, that’s not true for me, but I also believe garlic’s overabundance in food masks other flavors.

The sense of taste delivers the joys of culinary delights. The sense of taste distinguishes excellence from mediocrity. The sense of taste is an important aspect of what makes a meal memorable. Yet, taste is personal – but deeply personal for those who use it.

As I walk on the beach, there are days I believe I can taste sea salt from the ocean in the air – then again, maybe that’s the smell influencing that thought. Nevertheless, I like walking the beach is good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

On a Beach Walk: No. 48 (Touch)

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I like walking the beach. It’s good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

I feel the firm sand with each step. My feet enable me to distinguish degrees of wetness – yet, I cannot feel individual grains of sand – but I do love the water’s smooth caress. Ahhhhh … the sense of touch.

As I walk I can tell when I step on a fine gritty layer of fine shells – or when I step on a single shell. My eyes tell me to slow down and be careful as I cross a dense area of shells – or even advise me to detour. Yet, I am impressed how the touch on the bottom of my feet causes me to retract my step when encountering a shell’s sharp edge. Cheers to the sense of touch.

I think about the sense of touch on my feet when they are not on this beach – but in a sock that’s in a shoe. I not only feel the sock on these feet, but I can also distinguish the inside of my shoe. Better yet, I can also feel the floor upon where I stand, and the bottom of each shoe between the floor and my feet. I can distinguishing levels of hardness of the floor from plush carpet to wood to tile or concrete. Yes – the marvels of the sense of touch.

I think about the sensitivity of our fingertips and how much we rely on them. While touch sensing ability of the skin on our back is much less sensitive than our fingers, but our lips are even more sensitive as noted in a soft, sensuous kiss. Ahhh – the sense of touch.

The sense of touch allows us to distinguish an apple from a pear when biting into them by differentiating the texture of their flesh. It’s the sense of touch that allows the blind to read through the Braille system.

Touch is related to our mood and the situation. Think about the differences of touch in a loving couple while amorous and the “don’t touch me” feeling during an argument.

Touch differs between cultures – let alone among people. Some show touch as an acceptance or appreciation, but others react to touch as an infringement of their space. Those that are tactile oriented must learn to change because others are not.

Touch, that complex feedback system linking behaviors and emotions. Touch, that therapeutic message that is a sign of assurance, friendliness, encouragement, and comfort. Touch, the sense we associate with erogenous.

Of all the senses, I imagine touch is the least researched, yet, psychologists approach different aspects of touch, but not its absence or loss.

We can close our eyes to simulate blindness, plug our ears to limit sound, or hold our nose to limit smell – but can you imagine not being able to feel? Can you imagine a life without that sense of touch that protects us? Can you imagine being unable to detect the caress by a loved one that gives us a feeling of comfort?

Meanwhile, I will continue to enjoy the current feeling the beach gives me because I like walking the beach for it is good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

On an Alabama Trek

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Time is 8:02 AM (my pedometer reads 425 steps)

As I do most of the time, I walk down nine stories in anticipation of the known and unknown of what lies ahead.

In minutes I’m at the beach. The sun is bright. The sky is blue with wispy white streaks. The air is brisk, but the wind is strong – much stronger than I hoped – plus I am walking into the wind.

Within a few minutes, I cross into Florida. There’s the Flora Bama. (1,100 steps)

 

The sand is packed. I’m close to the water, but wearing shoes. I start a 15-minute stretch of familiar landmarks: Pharaoh, the Green-Eyed Lady, and Olives.

Time is 8:18 AM (2,072 steps)

Pharaoh stands guard over the beach. He tells me, “You can have my crown if you make it.”

Suspicious of his offer, I nod as I walk past.

This is something I wanted to do last year, but didn’t – and to think the weather was better then.

 

Conditions haven’t changed, but it’s early.

There she stands – “Green-eyed lady, ocean lady. Soothing every waves that comes. Green-eyed lady, passion’s lady. Dressed in love, she lives for life to me.”

She always wonders where I’m going and when I’ll return.

I smile at her presence as I walk by.

 

There’s that cool sand sculpture I saw the artist doing yesterday!

Several days ago would have been better because it was warmer and less windy – but the fog would limit the view.

The sand is no longer easy walking. I look for hardpan.

There stand the Olives.

Time – 8:34 AM (3,941 steps)

 

The next landmark is the USS Eden aircraft carrier with a flight deck at the end of a stretch of houses.

Head down, I maintain my pace into the wind. I encounter company for a short distance.

 

Time – 8:53 AM (2.5 miles/4 km) at Eden, a typical turnaround point

Eden is not a carrier, but a proud falcon or eagle perched to display its wings – much like the eagle on the back of a US quarter.

 

After Eden is a string of 6-7 houses, followed by a long stretch (2.5 miles/4 km) of no housing units for it is a Florida state park. My next destination is the first tall tower.

 

Fortunately, I know the locations of the bathrooms.

My pace is slower than normal. The strong headwind is a factor.

The sand remains difficult, so I continually search for a packed surface.

I’ve walked this lonely stretch before. I could listen to a podcast, but I want to conserve my battery.

The tide appears higher than normal, so low tide must have been earlier than I thought.

Should I turn around?

…. but then I find a stretch of packed sand that delays the decision.

Time – 9:52 AM (12,525 steps) 5.5 miles/ 8.8 km

At Windemere, the first tall condo outside the state park. I’ve been here before. I stop to empty my shoes, drink water, rest, check my phone, and think.

Walkers assure me that better sand lies ahead.

Before continuing, a man passes where I sit, and he turns left as if he will serve as my guide. I chose to continue to where my feet have not gone before and to reach the point at the end of the national shoreline.

 

The sand is better here, but the wind seems a bit stronger.

Condos are a few stories taller than our location – but not as wide. I marvel at the beauty of the expansive, curved balconies.

 

The man continues to serve as a guidepost as he walks ahead of me.

A collection of pastel houses are sandwiched between condos. For whatever reason, I smiled.

I imagine the first part of my destination lies ahead – and the man still sets a good pace and direction – but I’m gaining on him.

Time – 10:30 AM (12,525 steps) 7.1 miles/11.4 km

I enter the Gulf Islands National Shoreline. The sand is hard and level.

 

A half mile into the national protected area, I catch the man. We talk.

I asked the location of the point. He says, “Another 5-6 miles.” (98-9.5 km) – I laugh and think about Pharaoh’s words.

Time – 10:50 AM (16,284 steps) 7.1 miles/11.4 km)

One mile into the national shoreline we turned around. This is near the location where I thought the point would be – but little did I know it was still so far away.

We separate as I stop at the pavillion for restrooms, eating a banana, rest, water, texting my wife, and emptying my shoes.

Lunch is about 45 minutes away – a place just before the long stretch of the state park.

Ahhh … the wind is finally at my back.

Lunch was wonderful – a plate of red beans and rice.

Before heading back to the beach, my windshirt comes off to expose my arms.

The wind is at my back, but soon I notice a chill on my neck. My windshirt goes from my waist to my neck. Much better.

The state park stretch is generally lonely. I’m tired. I chat to two fisherman about their day.

I keep my eyes focused ahead for the next landmark.

I finally pass Eden as the eagle stands proud.

Olives appear as a martini toasting my survival.

The Green-Eyed Lady smiles with approval and my safe return.

Pharaoh nods in approval, then sheepishly smiles as a reminder that the crown is still his – but my walk is slower than normal.

I stop again to visit a sand sculpture done by an artist I talked to yesterday. (This is a morning picture)

 

There’s a log – I stop to sit, remove my socks and shoes that I stuff into a bag.

Ahhh … the sea refreshes my feet. My pace get faster. I hear the steady bass drum of my steps.

The Flora Bama tempts me to stop for a celebratory drink, but I press on to Alabama.

A final foot splash in front of the condo. I wave to my wife on the balcony, head inside, find the elevator for the ride to the ninth floor.

I stand at our door checking the final stats.

Time – 2:20 PM (38,185 steps) 16.8 miles/27 km

An interesting day – and I imagine the rest of the day will involve several thousand more steps.

As for the point that I did not see, hopefully next year – but then I will drive to the national shoreline, park the car, then start the trek to the point and back.

On a Beach Walk: No. 47 (Senses)

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I like walking the beach. It’s good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

Ever think about your senses? Yes – the senses – that collective that we associated with sight, touch, hearing, smell, taste, and balance.

The senses – the cooperative making us aware of our external and internal environments.

The senses – the cumulative sensory devices gathering information that is sent to our brain, which integrates the message into our personal reality that we shape into our individualized personal perspective.

The senses – something all living things have – maybe not all to the same degree of sensitivity – but they have senses. After all, detecting and reacting to environmental conditions is important to all life forms. Maybe not all the same senses as us, but they have senses with the same purposes as ours – to make the organism aware of their surroundings.

The sensory devices may be as simple as to detect light – that is, to either seek it or avoid it. Others see well enough to detect movement – but even our vision isn’t that of an eagle, hawk or falcon.

Some sensory mechanisms seek a desired pH. Others trigger movement. Some detects temperatures to guide the organism toward the preferred temperature.

I look at the shells on the sand thinking that they once housed a living thing that had senses. Not as the specialized organs that may be in our minds, but as specialized nerve endings sensitive to touch so a reflex action can quickly occur.

I pass a jellyfish washed ashore and its their sensory ability that reacts with a sting. Since it may still be alive, I watch my step.

I see a pelican diving because their sensory eyes spotted a prey below the water’s surface – a fish who can also see with eyes and detect other senses with its lateral line on the side of its body – a structure that our eyes can see – but they still may fall prey to the pelican – but maybe not.

The senses – those detection system that constantly bombard our brain with information – many of which are unconscious to us – so we are oblivious to their usefulness. Many others we choose to ignore – yet some get logged as future memory recall. Some create a moment in time that sticks with us. Maybe a learning situation because I wonder – is there any learning that doesn’t start with a sense?

I think of the technologies that assist our senses. The corrective lenses that I wear for better eyesight; a hearing aid to detect and amplify lost sounds. Oh the wonders of how Braille transforms touch into visual words so the visually impaired can read.

I think of the blind who can’t see the graph, but can interpret the data through technology transforming the data into audible sound.

I think of technologies that extend our senses. From the simple stethoscope to a sonogram and beyond.

The bottom line is simple – our senses are vital for survival of all living things – yet to we humans, senses are also personal.

As I walk, my senses are simultaneously at work, and thinking about this wonderful collective that we may take for granted are good thoughts for this day. After all, walking the beach is good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

On a Beach Walk: No. 39 (Blogging)

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I like walking the beach. It’s good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

I see the vast water representing bloggers. Communities as WordPress and Blogger are two hosting communities – but not the only ones.

Bloggers are across the world – just another example of the world becoming smaller and more connected. I don’t know how many people from different countries have touched my little corner of the world – but I do know that I enjoy those who interact and return – especially those who have stuck with me for many years.

Each blogger writes for different reasons – marketing, personalizing, pontificating, advocating, educating, sharing, interacting, simply writing, and more. Poems, short stories, sports, politics, photography, travel, satire, music, events, hobbies, diaries, entertainment, fitness, wellness, cooking, religion, philosophy, humor, art, and more because blog pages allow readers to decide the topics they want to engage.

Each blogger wants something different. Some want interactions, others want friends, laughs, respect, community, a voice, and/or even just followers.

Bloggers are like the rest people in our life: they came and go – there are givers and the selfish – the jokers and the philosophers – the learners and the teachers – the encourages and the downers – the inspirational and the passive – the emotional and the practical – the extroverts and the introverts – and many more – even the users and abusers. Nonetheless, I firmly believe that (as a whole) bloggers have made the world a better place. After all, we are the everyday people helping the world go around.

This is the last walk of the season. It’s been fun – so thanks for walking along. This series started in 2017 with 15 posts – but 2018 increased to 24. Our plans are to return to the beach again in 2019, which serves as my writing time for this eclectic collection of personal thoughts. Hopefully my future includes more walks to share on my little corner of the world. After all, walking the beach is good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.