When both sea and sky are clear and richly cerulean, the air is fresh and dry, the winds cool and crisp, unblemished days blend together in a kind of exquisite monotony. A pleasurable sameness. Not too much of a good thing, but maybe too much of what you can reasonably expect. A kind of climate utopia which should not exist in the northern hemisphere.
Sails on the river, surfers in the surf. Small boats troll for fish close in. Sea oats soften bright beaches and dunes, wave casually in the breeze. Dolphin pods patrol the outer bar. Pelicans skim the water in formation, a line of wings spread wide to float just above the surface. Shorebirds and gulls skip along the edge of breaking waves, hop and hover to avoid wetting their feet, seemingly without purpose. Walkers amble along the shore and pick through the shells and flotsam, bundles of line and sticks and seagrass, while waves sweep onto the sand with a rustling song like wind chimes in the sea. The sun dances on the rippling ocean, jewels flashing from the shore to the horizon. Blue over deeper blue.
Splashing foam and waves surge as salt water sweeps up the beach with a melody of broken oyster shells, coquina, cockles, conchs, olives, and sand dollars sliding over trillions of grains of sand, the remnants of the great and ancient mountain ranges and original continents that have been eroded for literal eons, tiny pebbles, chips and fragments as old as our piece of the universe.
The crowds have departed to their lives of schedules and daily commitments leaving the shore mostly empty. Seniors, runners, dogs, a fisherman casting from the beach here and there. Locals escaping for an hour or two their obligatory day jobs. The beach is warm and comforting, the sun low and no longer scorching as in the middle of summer.
Hurricanes continue to march toward the central Atlantic hundreds of miles from the coast. Surfers watch with enthusiastic anticipation for the swells to thunder onto our shore. Deep rolling green ground swells rising from the sea as they begin to crest over the shallowing bottom. I recall my best single day surfing decades ago when a hurricane passed 472 miles offshore (how do I remember that number?) and pumped endless perfect waves for two days. The only reason anyone left the surf was to retrieve a board that had washed ashore (few surfers had leashes back then). The heavy lips and deep tubes left us spent and bone-weary with ragdoll, noodle arms by sunset.
The North Carolina coast south of Cape Hatteras, especially the unnamed east-west island marketed as the Crystal Coast of Atlantic Beach, Pine Knoll Shores, Salter Path, Indian Beach and Emerald Isle, receives few days of high quality surf. Mostly, the waves are confused and mushy, troublesome to catch and offer short rides through the foam. But you surf -- or bodysurf or boogie board -- what you can and always study the weather for better swells to come. To paraphrase a saying, “any day in the ocean is better than a day in the office”. At the end of the day, what feeds your soul is salt in your hair and on your skin, the taste of the sea on your lips, eyes red from the salt water, your shoulders tender from long hours in the sun and feet toughened by the sand.