Friday’s Weekend Column
About a Minnesota Man Exploring Life in the South

Going To The Beach
by James Glaser
February 26, 2010

Yes, I know most people go to the beach in the summer when it is warm, but then most people are not from Northern Minnesota. You get the sun out in February, and watch the temperature climb some place close to 70 or maybe in the high 50's and a guy from Minnesota can get fooled into believing that it is early July. And we all know July is the perfect time to go to the beach.

So, Wanda, who is not fooled but a good sport, and I are heading out for Gulf Coast of Alabama and Mississippi. Wanda is going to take me to the secret beach of her youth, where huge sea shells litter the sand. Personally, I am hoping when we get there we don't see a thirty story condo built right on the shoreline.

People tell me if you really want to find shells, you have to head out right after a storm. I don't know one shell from another, and it seems like every time I go to the coast to look for shells, all I find are millions of the ones that are the size of a small pea. So, it won't take that big of a pretty shell to impress me.

People in the South think of going to the beach, like people up North think about going to the lake, only the people in the South have a bigger lake. But then they have sharks, too. Some guy got eaten by a shark about a month ago here on a Florida beach, and Wanda tells me you have to worry about jellyfish, too. Up North all we worried about were mosquitoes, which when I think about it, mosquitoes on a bad day could be as bad as a shark attack, just slower.

To tell you the truth, when Wanda and I go on these trips down here, I have no idea of where we will end up. I know we are heading west through Pensacola where Wanda grew up. These are her old stomping grounds, and she knows people in every little town and village, and always finds me wonderful things to see. I know we are going to some world renowned garden some place along the coast, and we are staying on the beach. That all sounds fine to me.

My son called from Minnesota last night and said he was going snow boarding, which is a bit like going to the beaches of the Gulf. He will be in white snow, and I'll be in white sand. I know from experience it can be very chilly on the beach, and a sweatshirt and jacket are in order. One thing nice about the winter beaches of the Gulf Coast is that you have them all to yourself,

I was working outside yesterday, and it was sunny and 53 above in the afternoon. That's right, people from Minnesota are always in the habit of telling you if it is above or below zero. So, I'm up on the ladder screwing a piece of cdx plywood to the top of the gable end wall on this little building I am putting up, and a man stops to talk. First off, he asks how I can work in this cold. That is when I notice that he was dressed to head out on to the tundra. He had on Carhartt bib overalls and an insulated jacket and a ball cap pulled down hard. I knew right away this guy was a native. I got down off the ladder, and we talked a bit, but he admitted that the wind was too much for him to stand out in and talk, so he headed off. Now I was putting up big pieces of plywood by myself, and you can't do that on a ladder if it is windy because the wind will take your board like a sail, and pull you right off that ladder. That tells you how little wind there really was, and that explains why I'll have any beach we go to, to myself.

I kind of wish I had a metal detector to walk the beach with, but you know I would look like a old snowbird geek out there, and we have to keep up appearances. I don't know who I am keeping them up for, because I am going to be out on that beach by myself, or if there is somebody else out there, it is going to be some old snow bird geek with his metal detector, probably finding diamond rings and pirate gold.

Oh well, I know it will be an interesting time. It always is on a trip with Wanda.

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