When the dream cloud stole the beach

“We have a drought for four months without a drop of rain, and then we go to the beach for Thanksgiving, and it rains!! Are you kidding me? We haven’t seen the sun in three days!”

And that’s my wife’s weather report from Saint Simons Island for Beachgiving 2022. Now, to Bill with the sports update.

As with so many weather reports, I take issue with this report. While the sun did not make a single appearance during our latest Beachgiving trip, it wasn’t exactly a monsoon. It was more perpetual cloudiness interrupted by periods of mist, sprinkles, fog, drizzle and one giant cloud that landed on the beach — or, as I would describe it, lovely weather.

Then again, I’m the guy who raises his hand when folks watching televised coverage of Hurricane Zeppo blowing some guy around in a downpour as metal signs fly by (nearly decapitating him) ask: “What kind of fool does this?!”

“Right here, y’all. This kind.”

See, I believe there’s no such thing as a bad day at the beach. Sure, the ocean can rise up on occasion and annihilate you with tsunamis, tropical winds, sharks or radioactive Japanese lizards, but that’s all as much part of the overall beach ambiance as palm trees, sand and margaritas.

The morning after Thanksgiving, we walked out onto the balcony and looked toward the ocean from our beachfront accommodations. I say looked “toward” because you could hear the Atlantic Ocean, but you couldn’t actually see it. A cloud had settled over the entire island — or the entire world for all we knew.

“Well, I’m not going out there and getting eaten by some alien like in some scary movie,” my wife said.

“Was that the one with Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour from the early 1980s where they’re walking around in some cloud at the end?”

“No, that was ‘Somewhere in Time.’ I mean a scary movie!”

“That was scary! I sat through that mess for two hours! I’m going walking on the beach.”

“What beach?”

“The one yonder way, allegedly,” I said as I motioned toward the gray mass.

I decided to not take my phone. I knew that probably was a mistake that pretty much assured I’d see a right whale offshore or Bigfoot or Jane Seymour on the beach and never be able to prove it. But I just wanted a quick stroll in the fog, which coincidentally will be the title of my autobiography in 30 years — “A Stroll in the Fog.”

There were a handful of hardy beachgoers here and there, but the cloud was so think, almost chewy, that just a few steps gave me complete solitude. The surf was soothing as the ocean retreated toward low tide. I could not see more than 100 feet either way on the beach. I could not see the condos and houses on the shore. I heard a boat horn but saw no boat.

I was trapped in a cloud. Completely alone. I wasn’t quite sure how to get back to where I’d started the journey. It was like having an extremely lucid dream. It was glorious, an experience unlike any I’d ever known and one I might never know again. The novel that had been spinning around in my brain for months finished itself during the walk. Now, all I’ve gotta do is type the sucker.

I’d always thought of the beach as the place where Heaven and Earth meet, and I found myself caught between the two. It was about as close to a spiritual experience as I’ve ever had. It was not an experience I could have in a group. It was one that could only happen with quiet, reflective solitude. Nothing came out of the sky to talk to me. No ghosts appeared in the mist. The conversation was totally internal.

As Paulo Coelho writes in “Manuscript Found in Accra,” “blessed are those who do not fear solitude, who are not afraid of their own company — even Chris Johnson, which you’d think would be at least a little bit scary.” Actually, I added that part after the long dash, but you get the point. Although, I’ve visited Accra and found solitude in Ghana’s chaotic capital city mighty hard to find. The village of Agomeda was a bit more secluded and peaceful.

I guess it’s all a matter of perspective wherever you are. Behind every cloud is either a silver lining or a lightning bolt ready to strike you in the backside. And in the middle of that cloud is either a gray prison or a unique, misty world — whichever one you’re looking for at the time.

A few shots from a cloudy day at Saint Simons

(I actually took these pictures after my stroll when the visibility was much better, somewhat to my dismay.)

One Comment

  • Yep! The beach In Panama City is my favorite place to be! I like St. Simons too especially staying at the King and Prince!

    Reply

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