Image above: Our Friends Pam and Jimmy
During the warm weather season many folks look forward to relaxing and taking a much-needed break. For our family, our favorite escape is to the beach. There is something calming and restful about the shore and it calls to us every summer. Living in Upstate NY, we crave more Vitamin D! To me, there’s nothing better. I’m a true Pisces at heart, and if I’m not on the beach, near the beach, or looking at it, I’m dreaming of it!
About 15 years ago, we rented a condo in Sanibel Island from our good friends Pam and Jimmy. Warm and welcoming, the condo became our home away from home. Within a 2-minute walk to the beach, it was a perfect destination. Off the coast of Southwest Florida, Sanibel’s gentle waves and shallow waters along with the white sand beaches were some of the many reasons our family was drawn to this coastal town. We also love the island’s natural attractions included a wildlife refuge for birds and other animals. The historic lighthouse and biking trails offered other fun options in addition to the water.
Gram searching for shells
On arrival, we always open the door to the condo and yell, “Welcome Home!” After looking around to see what’s new or different, we drop our bags and take a short walk. The sea and the salty air is balmy and it’s beckoning to us. We say a quick hello.
As children, Kaitlyn and Jordan’s attraction to the ocean seemed immediate. They could spend a whole day at the shore and not be bored. Both fair-skinned red heads, we developed a routine years ago to guard everyone against the UV rays and to make the day enjoyable. A practice so smooth that we’ve continued the same pattern to this day.
Gram making sandwiches for the beach
Before breakfast, the “A team” drives over to the beach with a large pop-up tent, chairs, picnic blanket and beach mat. They stake out a great spot and set up. We learned years ago that securing the shelter with a few sandbags can make all the difference when the wind picks up. Back at the condo, the “B team” is headed up by Gram. She oversees the sandwich making and labels each one for its intended recipient.
Another person stocks a cooler with frozen water bottles and assorted cold beverages. The go-to snacks are in an insulated bag and ready by the door. These munchies often consist of peanut butter filled pretzels, carrots with hummus and chips. Protein bars along with trail mix (minus the chocolate chips; otherwise, they’ll melt!) provide plenty of energy while frozen grapes stay cold and delicious. We are all set for Al Fresco Dining!
Finally, a couple of beach-friendly bags hold sunscreen, chap sticks and paper products. A fun and easy way to identify who’s who’s are cabana striped towels monogrammed with first names. Floppy hats, extra pairs of sunglasses and a small first aid kit are always great to include.
“To escape and sit quietly on the beach-that’s my idea of paradise.” Dragging a chair down to the water, I find my happy place. Looking out across the water, the soft waves splash over my feet. It cools the body, reduces any stress and restores my soul. Someone is blowing bubbles. I laugh while watching the floating bobs go out to wherever the wind takes them. Beach goers love bubbles! I glance up at the sky and see the moving clouds changing shape. A big floppy hat keeps the sun off my face and I’m smiling. The beach is my favorite refuge and is never lost time.
Walking by are two amateur collectors. Gram and my daughter are equipped with shell bags and ready to find their treasures. With the tide chart to guide them, Kaitlyn knows the best times for shell seeking. The sloping shoreline helps contribute to their efforts of good finds. I close my eyes and hear them laughing and chatting, mutual enjoyment of each other’s company. Nothing is better than a walk on the beach, especially with someone you love and care about.
When the afternoon sun hits its peak, we retreat to the condo. The air conditioning is a welcome change, and the spacious home allows for us to spread out and do our own thing. My favorite activity is to take an afternoon nap. While curled up with a soft pillow and throw, I doze off to the smell of fresh roasted coffee and laughter. Gram winds down with a jigsaw puzzle or cryptogram and others are playing a board game. The spirit of competition always comes alive; win or lose, these games always bring out some sort of life lesson in good sportsmanship.
Jordan, Gram & Kaitlyn
Our “B.E.A.C.H.: Best Escape Anyone Can Have” vacation is not complete without a good smash ball tournament in the pool. There are no strict rules-we just play for fun. Large water paddles keep the ball up in the air as we rally back and forth while enjoying the pool. Cannonballs off the diving board bring laughs and keep the game alive. To be together in a place like paradise is all that I need.
With dinnertime approaching, we’ve worked up some good appetites. There’s plenty of great places to dine on Sanibel, yet my favorite place is right at home. My son is an amazing “Grill Master.” Jordan is not only good at barbecuing, but he also really enjoys it! The grill is always cleaned well to give the meat a great sear. An enticing aroma wafting in the air guarantees hot, juicy, and delicious foods. Burgers, chicken, and veggies are often on the menu including toasted rolls. Fresh peaches and pineapple from the local produce stand are dipped in honey and lime juice and grilled to perfection. The one thing I’ve learned about this art is that the chef must stay with the grill-don’t leave your food!
It has been years since my family has been to Sanibel, yet the memories will sustain me for the rest of my life. This is just a small sampling of the many things we’ve enjoyed while vacationing here. I love the beach and miss it so much. The sound and smell of the sea, the family time spent together and my desire to live near the ocean are reasons I chose to share this story with all of you.
Do you have a favorite place you’d like to visit? Are there vacations you’ve taken that hold a special place in your heart? During the Covid pandemic, time allowed for me to organize all the family photos. To keep our Sanibel memories alive, I shared many of the pictures with family. They loved them! My sweet mom has a photo frame next to her chair and can re-visit Sanibel right from the comfort of her living room. At the age of 98, pictures bring her so much joy and give her topics to talk about. It is said that “a picture is worth a thousand words” and I believe it!
Sunset on Sanibel: Jordan, Gram & Kaitlyn
A special thanks to my dear friend Melinda, who introduced me to Pam and Jimmy many years ago. To Pam and Jimmy, thank you from the bottom of our hearts for sharing your love for Sanibel with us. Without your kindness, warmth, and generosity we would never have known about Sanibel. “Heaven IS a little closer in a home by the water!” We love you very much.
Dear friends, thank you for taking the time to read my blog. I hope you are all doing well and staying safe. Be sure to look out for one another and know how much I appreciate you all.
Have a “Sizzling Summer!”
Kathy Ann Corse, author