Writer’s Block: Enjoying the Fresh Air

Port Isabel-South Padre Press

The summer solstice marks the longest day of the year. And with the solstice still being a couple of weeks away, the interval of available sunshine between sunrise and sunset is still growing longer by a few minutes every day.

That’s good news for me because it means I’ve got just that much more time to get outside and enjoy the outdoors in daylight, feeling the warmth of the sun on my skin. It means I’ve got just that much more time to roll up my jeans, kick off my flip-flops and enjoy a relaxing, post-work day walk on the beach.

After a long day toiling away in the office, sinking my toes in the still-warm sands on the Island an hour or so before sunset is the perfect balm. I walk along the city beaches, past the hotels and condos and rows of brightly colored beach umbrellas. Now that school is out, the beaches are becoming more crowded, even on weekdays, but that’s no bother because people watching is half the fun.

I think it’s interesting how different the beach can feel from one day to the next. For example, during one walk a couple of weeks ago, the air was cool (relatively speaking, compared to the stifling heat earlier in the day) and the water felt almost as warm as a bath. The breeze was refreshing, and even walking at a brisk pace, I hardly worked up a sweat.

Just a few days later, though, the evening temperatures were warmer, the air almost still. And, I nearly flinched when the first wave lapped at my ankles! The water felt so much cooler than it had a few days prior.

It wasn’t. It was just my perception of the environment and the increased humidity that day. Looking northward I could see a narrow ribbon of fog hanging low over the sand. It was just thick enough to blur the bottom edges of the high rises in the distance, but not enough to conceal them completely from view.

The air was dripping wet without a single drop of rain. Even before I’d made it to the next beach access, my clothes felt damp, sticking uncomfortably to my skin. I waded a little deeper into the water, letting the comparative coolness of the surf splash up to my thighs as I tried to keep up a quick pace in the soupy air which seemed to provide more resistance to my gait than the sand shifting beneath my feet.

Sometime later, my phone buzzed against my hip. It was the alarm I’d set to remind myself that it was almost sunset; I’d have enough light to see by for perhaps another half hour after that time. I turned on my heel and began to head back. As soon as I did, I felt relief.

The southerly wind — really more like the barest hint of a breeze than a wind — gently nudged the flyaways from where they’d hung lankly against my temples, despite my best efforts to contain my hair in a ponytail.

It wasn’t much, but it was enough. It was enough to make the return trip down the beach more enjoyable — in the fresh air.

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