There has been a seasonal shift in the air the past two days. In Florida the change in seasons is subtle. The wind blows off shore, the air is cooler. We shut the air conditioning off and open the windows, listening to the silken rustle of palm trees as we drift off to sleep. I woke early this morning, at 5:30, and sat out on the deck, reading Still Writing by Dani Shapiro, 256 pages of pure inspiration and encouragement.
My favorite walk is over the Intracoastal bridge to the beach, then back along Route A1A towards Briny Breezes. This is another one of those incorporated coastal towns, but oh so different than any other coastal town along this particular stretch of South Florida coastline.
It is Florida in the fifties.
The Texaco station still has two bays where a mechanic will actually work on your car.
The grocery store is owned by two brothers who took it over after their Dad retired. They make delicious sandwiches, have an amazing selection of wine and beer, and bake carrot cake each day served on a cookie sheet by the cash register. Rich and I walked here one weekend and stopped in for picnic supplies, which we brought to the beach. The Nomad Surf Shop is right next door where reggae music plays on outdoor speakers.
Snowbirds from the Northeast, Midwest, and Canada live in 488 mobile homes that line both sides of Route A1A.
A lot of people zip around in golf carts.
And the town hall even has special parking for them.
There are all sorts of activities for the retired snowbirds, such as shuffleboard, which is apparently a big deal here as they have 14 courts.
There is also a hobby club.
And for the fishermen, a fish cleaning station.
Of course, there are those No Parking signs around, especially near the Briny Breezes club house and the picnic area, but my husband and I sat at one of the picnic tables one day and no one bothered us. As you may know, we are notorious for being gate crashers.
But if you can walk or bike here, there are no Keep Out or Private signs. The beach paths aren’t even designated Public, they’re just there.
This is why Briny Breezes makes me smile. It is a tiny little chunk of beachfront property owned by middle class snowbirds amidst the mansions of South Florida. There is none of this:
As if the beach could be Private Property.
Today the seas were wild and choppy. I could hear the pounding surf as I walked along A1A. Turning east towards the beach, I bent my head into the strong wind which slowed my pace.
On Saturday after visiting the Morikami Gardens, we walked to the beach, where the ocean was like glass, calm with very little surf. Today, it was a different animal.
Walking along the ocean is a drink for your soul. That’s why it needs to belong to everyone. There is so little shoreline on the planet. Some people live their entire lives never having seen the ocean. If your first visit to the ocean happens to be in South Florida, do not let the Private, Keep Out signs deter you. Get out on the beach, get your toes in the sand and ignore that nonsense. No one owns the beach.
In October 2005 a developer offered the fine people of Briny Breezes $500 million for their prime piece of real estate, a little more than $1 million per lot. A majority of the landowners decided to pursue the sale. I mean really, who wouldn’t, a 2000 census put the average value of each lot at $129,000. However, the deal fell through.
Let’s hope another offer doesn’t come along, the people who live in Briny Breezes would never find a place anywhere near the ocean for a million dollars, and two billionaire’s could come along and build two houses, blocking the beach and closing off this stretch of shoreline for eternity.
There’s a funky little neighborhood next to Briny Breezes with some interesting homes. The neighborhood has a rebel, hippie vibe.
And dirt roads.
I was interested in this neighborhood for awhile. Someone actually told me to forget about it, it had the stench of Briny Breezes. That advice from a wealthy woman who looked down her nose at the middle class trailer park by the ocean did not deter me. I love the smell of a briny ocean breeze, but the houses are old, need a lot of work, and rarely go up for sale.
The last major expense my husband and I had at our house in New Hampshire was after the inspection, when we spent $5000 replacing the oil burner. The old oil tank and the previous tank, which was also still in the basement, were as rusted as the one in the picture above. My husband removed both of them himself, a nasty and slightly dangerous job. Been there, done that, don’t need to do it again.
On most days, I’m content just crossing the bridge and walking the beach. I don’t need to own anything at the moment, particularly something that isn’t mine to own.