Renourished

sunrise, Atlantic Ocean
Sunrise with Sam.

By Bruce Stambaugh

I stood on the beach beside Sam enjoying another inspiring sunrise. Though I didn’t know it, the scene renourished me. I had never heard that word before.

Sam was a security guard for a beach restoration project that was ongoing on the barrier island where my wife and I have wintered for the last several years. He had just come on duty for his 12-hour shift.

hood mergansers, saltmarsh
Renourishment.
Sam couldn’t contain himself. In his strong southern drawl, he chatted while I snapped away with cameras to capture the unfolding beauty before us.

Sam said he had come to work early just to see the sunrise. He succinctly expressed the natural fringe benefits he received from just doing his job.

“I get to see sunrises, the full moon last night, the stars and planets, and a beautiful sunset over the island,” he said. I had found a kindred soul mate. Sam described in one sentence why my wife and I return year after year to this little paradise.

It’s not balmy by Miami standards, or even Sarasota for that matter. But we find the island’s winter weather much more agreeable than northeast Ohio.

From another glorious dawn to a spectacular sunset, this particular day served as a perfect example of how we recharge.

I couldn’t help but see the irony in
the beach reinvigoration.

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The massive renourishment project was an engineering marvel. Involved were large freighters, tugboats, survey boats, an enormous pumping station, hundreds of 40-ft. long steel pipes sections, and a variety of heavy-duty excavating equipment.

Huge ships dredged the river inlet to maintain shipping lanes. Pumps recycled the sand through a miles-long piping system. A slurry of sand and seawater spewed back out onto the beach.

Giant bulldozers plowed a path to channel the excess water back into the ocean. Shore birds and sea birds reaped the benefits by feasting on the crawling critters caught up in the pressurized flush of sand and water.

Renourishment came in more natural ways, too. The salty spray, the sanguine setting of having an ocean for a front yard, the wildlife, the nearby marine forest and accompanying saltmarsh, and the friendly folks encountered during our extended stay combined to enrich our lives.

beach construction
Sam at work.
Sam and I lingered a long time on the beach, side-by-side, silent, soaking in the radiance before us. When the colors muted, he returned to his station at the end of the orange iridescent construction fence and took a sip of water.

I retreated to our rented condo to the company of my hospitable wife and our latest of many visitors. They were just as thrilled with the sunrise as I was. That, too, served as nourishment for my soul.

To be honest, I’m not a beach person. I’d much rather be hiking in mountains than lazing along the shore. But it’s cold in the mountains in winter, and though it’s not even subtropical here, we had a lot in common with Sam and the beach project.

The word renourishment, in fact, applies specifically to restoring damaged beaches. Standing beside Sam enjoying the sunrise brought a wider meaning of the word for me.

Neva and I were exceedingly grateful to be renourished by the marvels all around, and by the good folks who came calling. I was especially pleased when Sam asked to have a sunrise photo sent to him.

Even beaches need to be renourished from time to time. How and where are you replenished?

sunset, Fernandina Beach fL
Soft sunset.

© Bruce Stambaugh 2016