The azaleas are still blooming. The scent of wisteria drifts on the breeze and when I stepped outside this morning, the temperature was in the low 30s.
This can only mean one thing on the Alabama Gulf Coast. It’s time for spring break.
The mid-term holiday doesn’t always bring on a cold snap that threatens to break records for low temperatures. It can feel that way, particularly on mornings like this.
Once again, after weeks of pleasant weather, we’re back to freeze warnings a week after the official start of spring.
For most of us, it’s an annoyance or a bit amusing. We joke about the weather being unpredictable this time of year and how we thought we’d put the coat away for good.
If dreams of warm sand and sunlight sparkling on the Gulf have been what’s helped you get through months of cold, gray mornings walking to class, it might not be quite so amusing.
Some breakers just deal with it. They throw on a sweatshirt and jeans, if they remembered to pack them, and head out onto the sand.
My favorites, however, are the ones who just refuse to accept the weather.
You see them sunning themselves, lying on towels spread over the chilly beach as artic winds sweep over their swimsuit-clad bodies.
On the first spring break I covered as a reporter in Gulf Shores, I took a photo of a line of sunbathers.
Before the beach was built up through renourishment programs, the sand was about four feet lower than the boardwalk. Dozens of kids lay on towels at the base of the wall, where the bulkhead would block some of the wind.
They reminded me of seals on some nature channel documentary.
One girl sat on the bulkhead. She wore a coat and had wrapped herself in a blanket as she talked to her bikini-clad friends shivering below.
They had told everyone they were coming to the beach for spring break and by golly, they were determined to come back with a tan.
A few of the truly determined will go out into the water. This seldom lasts long.
The boys – they’re almost always male – will dash out into the waves and then seem to remember something they left back on the beach. They’ll try to appear casual as they emerge from the water, but the blue skin usually gives them away.
I have to admire they’re determination. They’ve been looking forward to this, they’ve been planning it and dreaming about this moment and they’re not going to let a little thing like the weather, or hypothermia, stand in the way of having a good time.
In time, they’ll forget about the goose-bumps.
They’ll remember the friends, the laughter and the bonds formed on the adventure. They’ll hear the sound of the surf and seagulls in their memories for decades.
They won’t think about the cold wind as they recall standing on the edge of the ocean, looking out over the Gulf and wondering what the future holds in store over the edge of that blue horizon, just as we all did before them.
Guy Busby is a writer living in Silverhill. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and at guybusby.com and liked on Facebook at Guy Busby, writer.