While it would be correct to say that I grew up in Daytona Beach, the truth is that I grew up on Daytona Beach. My siblings and I were tan from March through December. We spent so much time in the sea we often felt more ’fish’ than human. Back then, there were no beach tolls or beach patrols– only surfers and skim boarders, body surfers and swimmers—even our dogs were allowed to frolic beside us in the water. The ocean was our playground. We constructed enormous, elaborate sand castles complete with moats—no buckets, shovels, or plastic molds were needed. We built them with our bare hands. We were experts at dodging traffic as we flagged down the ice cream truck that drove up and down the shore, and we learned at a very young age what a ‘run-out’ was, and how to swim out of one. Although there have been many changes over the years to my beloved Daytona Beach, for me, it will always be home—a place to swim, sun, and just hang loose.
“Hang Loose”–Colored Pencil on Multimedia Paper
I just returned from a long weekend on the west coast of Florida. We stayed at the beautiful LaPlaya Resort on the white sugar shore of the Gulf of Mexico. It’s sea turtle nesting season, so our eco-friendly resort asked all guests to respect the nests that lined the beach, and to pull the heavy black-out drapes in our rooms each evening at sunset so the only light on the coast would be that of the moon. I felt such joy at seeing new nests each morning when my husband and I walked the shoreline. It was so inspirational to spend time in a resort that celebrated my beloved sea turtles in their décor, their conservation efforts, and in the education of their guests. This wasn’t our first stay at the LaPlaya, and it definitely won’t be our last. Their eco-friendly operation is part of the pull that keeps us coming back—much like the mysterious pull that brings sea turtles back to their home beach to nest.