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Almost Fall at the Beach

Tom PattonWhile Fall doesn’t officially begin for a few more days, it has been just perfect here on the continents’ edge. I’m not sure where the Summer has gone, but gone it has, and without so much as a by-your-leave.

I still check daily, sometimes twice a day, with the National Hurricane Center website. There are a couple of disturbances out there in the tropical convergence zone, one with about a 50% or less chance of blowing up into a tropical storm. But the peak of the season has passed, without so much as a threat to the Florida peninsula. It could still happen, of course. The season runs until the end of November.

But as September wanes and turns into October, people begin to breathe a little easier. The ocean waters begin to cool, and warm water is the engine that drives the storms. Not out of the woods yet, not by a long shot, but at least we can see the fringe of the forest.

It’s perfect for the ragtop. I’m one that has “down” as the default position for the top of my car. What’s the use of having a car with a removable top if you don’t remove it. But at night, particularly, with a temperature in the low 80’s and the stars above, there’s nothing quite like it. And when you can drive out by the ocean on A1A at night with the top down, so much the better. It was in this kind of weather that I recall a nighttime drive on the Overseas Highway in the Florida Keys, top down on the 7 mile bridge, moon shining on the water … I sometimes wonder why everyone doesn’t drive a convertible.

Of course, Fall at the beach means that the school zones are back in effect. It’s changed my cycling times, just to try to stay out of the traffic that builds up right around 2pm. But cycling in the middle of the day isn’t nearly the strain that it is in July and August. Sure, it’s still hot, but not the stifling heat that we get mid-Summer. If working at home continues into the cooler months, at least I’ll have some opportunities to ride during the day, when it’s a little warmer and daylight. That’s always been the problem in the winter. It’s difficult to get up at 6am to ride when it’s cold out. Way too easy just to stay in bed where it’s warm.

Restaurants are less crowded. The beach festival season is pretty much done, and it’s really waned over the past few years anyway. Not nearly so many events as there used to be, mostly because of budget cuts. But parking is still a problem on weekends in Town Center, despite what some city leaders have said. It won’t be long before it’ll be a ghost town at the end of Atlantic Boulevard until about Thursday, but it will still be a favorite destination on the weekends. C’mon out and support our local businesses.

But it is the time of the year when things start to slow down. “They’re closing down the hangouts, air is turning cool. Shutting off the Super Slide. The Kids are back in school.” The words from Jimmy Buffett describe it perfectly. The ocean continues to crash incessantly on the beach, but the water grows colder, the people on the beach are wearing more clothes, (and sometimes that’s a blessing) and the time you can spend on the beach ends at about five rather than 8.

Fall at the beach is the time when you can move back outside for dinner without all the biting gnats and mosquitoes. Not to mention you can sit outside and comfortably enjoy the evening. In a couple of months, we’ll be able to light the fire pit again.

People who don’t live in Florida think there aren’t seasons, but they’re wrong. No, we don’t have the spectacular Fall colors, but there does come a chill in the air… along about mid-December. We look forward to Spring just like everyone else. Things bud and bloom. What we skip is Winter, and that’s just fine with me.

So, while it’s technically still Summer for a couple of days, you can definitely feel that Fall will be along any time. And that’s OK, because Fall at the beach is a lot like Summer in a lot of places. The fishing and boating are good, there’s no haul-out and Winter storage to worry about, but while life slows down at the beach, people come back to life and emerge from the air conditioning. The top is down on the car, the windows are open at night, and the ocean continues to pound at the shore.

What’s not to like?

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