Alabama’s patch of paradise

Published 3:28 pm Thursday, April 29, 2021

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I can remember as a child looking forward to our marathon summer days spent at the public beach in Pensacola. We’d leave at dawn, my mom having packed all the necessary items to prepare breakfast under one of the covered shelters there. My older sister and I would walk to the Krispy Kreme near the beach and pick up a dozen hot, fresh doughnuts to supplement the bacon and eggs Mama fixed. The scent of freshly brewed coffee mingled with the salt air.

Sandwiches and Golden Flake chips with bottles of “Co-Colas” plucked well chilled from the ice chest, served as our lunch, complete with admonitions from Mama to stay out of that water while it all digested.

We’d come home slightly sunburned, the scent of Coppertone lingering in spite of our post-beach showers, exhausted, but happy. Good memories.

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As I write this column early Monday morning, I can glance over my shoulder and see the pinks and blues of the sky above glistening waters and sugar white sands. I’ve been able to enjoy such a view for just over two weeks, and it’s been pretty heavenly to spend some time in Alabama’s piece of paradise.

The ninth floor balcony of my sister’s condo has been my window to the beauty of our Gulf Coast. From sunrise to sunset, that view keeps changing, shifting; the waters can go from steel gray on a stormy day to the deepest turquoise and emerald on a sunny one. And the sky, oh— it’s an ombre pastel palette feast to your eyes when you wake up and as the day winds down.

I have been fortunate enough to visit both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts and to travel to the eastern, western and southern Caribbean several times. I have seen a number of beautiful beaches. But I truly, honestly, have never seen any coastline prettier than right here in sweet home Alabama. You really cannot beat the sugar white sands and sparkling waters here, and you don’t have to fly or drive all day to get to our patch of paradise.

I’ve eaten meals al fresco when the weather allowed, watching the watercraft–sailboats serenely gliding by, fishing boats headed out to deeper waters, the colorful canopies of para-sails soaring above the Gulf—as well as sky-high advertisements streaming behind airplanes and, on one occasion, the Navy’s own Blue Angels passing over.

Thanks to delivery services, I have been able to live very comfortably—and avoid crowds–without even walking out the front door. The spring breakers are largely gone; there’s plenty of space to maintain social distancing when you hit the beach, as my husband and I did late yesterday afternoon.

The simple pleasures of collecting seashells (one pocket of my shorts ended up with no less than 50 of these treasures from the sea), dipping my toes into the waters lapping the shoreline and walking hand in hand with my best guy . . . making memories together, right here in sweet home Alabama. I hope you and yours get a chance to enjoy our state’s own patch of paradise this year.