By the Seaside

R. and I took a day-trip to Seaside, the planned beach town west of Panama City on the Florida panhandle.  As we arrived on Highway 30-A, it immediately felt different from the usual Florida coastal sprawl:  quaint cottages, people in beachwear coasting along on bike-paths.  I joked to R. that I felt like I was in an episode of The Prisoner.  Then we came to the town center and easily found a place to park.  We were glad we came on a Wednesday, because even so there were a lot of visitors.  We changed in convenient public restrooms and headed for the beach.  Now, I laughed, the big white ball couldn't single us out!

The forecast had been for a good chance of rain, but a brisk sea-breeze kept the day sunny and not oppressively hot.  R. loitered at the water's edge while I took my dip.  I had not been to the beach in years.  The brine washed over me.  The rolling waves pushed me this way and that.  I swam underwater with my eyes open, welcoming the salty sting on my much-operated-upon orbs.  (I had cataract and cornea surgeries in '13 and '14.)  The working of the sea exercised me, and after thirty minutes or so it was time for lunch.

High above the beach, eating a fish sandwich and drinking iced tea, I was happy, and so was R.

Now it was time for shopping.  One of those little "pattern language" things:  there were lots of places for a hubby to chill while his wife noses around in shops.

This is an area called "the shops of Ruskin", with galleries and boutiques.  I didn't bother to take a picture, but Seaside has a very fine bookstore,  Sundog Books.  If I were not a librarian and lived in Seaside, Sundog would meet all my needs.  Just excellent.

Sign for a country church on Highway 20 that says it all.


Steerforth said...

Places like Seaside fascinate me - I think the Prisoner analogy is spot on. What disturbs me about them is that they are imitations of communities that have evolved over time, but lack roots and are vulnerable to economic factors.

The good thing - and I think this is a particularly American phenomenon - is that people often make up for the absence of tradition with civic pride and good old fashioned neighbourliness.

Brett said...

What struck me was its un-Southernness. Being unable to order sweet iced tea was an indicator of it's essentially northern, utopian inspiration. (The bottomless glass of sweet tea is a staple of Southern dining.) It seems derived from the Chautauqua camps of the turn of the last century, with its amphitheater and its improving culture.

Still, it is a happy place, and more truly relaxing than mainstream Florida beaches, with their high-rise hotels and condos.

If you want to see a great film about a "real" community nearby, Panama City, try "Ruby in Paradise", by local producer-director Victor Nuñez, on YouTube.