We live about 10 miles north of Gulf Shores, Alabama. Last weekend we went to the beach because the weather was beautiful. There were a few other people enjoying the sand and surf. Music was playing and the people were cheerful and friendly. It was a light crowd for such a nice spring day. We had no idea that just a week later, that same shore line would be threatened by an oil spill.
We went back to the beach today. The sky was dark and ominous, but it didn’t rain. The surf was rough with a red flag warning people to stay out of the water. Even with the threat of bad weather, the beach was packed. Unlike the previous week, the crowd was eerily quiet. There was no music and no small talk. We all stood staring out across the sugar white sand and watching the waves crash into the shore. A group of kids played volleyball and a father tossed a football to his son, but even these activities were low key and quiet. We walked down the beach, watching our children play in the breaking waves and wondering when another day at the beach would be possible for them. Everyone on the beach seemed to be in a stunned silence. The sadness was palpable.
I have lived within 30 miles of this spot my entire life and I have never seen so many people taking pictures. I snapped pictures, too. I want our children to remember the beach that we have always known. Our youngest child will be 3 years old at the end of May. I took a picture of his tiny feet in the sand knowing that he won’t remember today. I don’t know what the beach of his childhood will look like, but I wanted to give him a small piece of the beach I came to love.