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
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

Walking by myself, but never alone

Countryside by Bruce Stambaugh

By Bruce Stambaugh

Even though I am usually alone, I always have plenty of company on my regular morning walk on the township road near our home.

I walk for the exercise of course, but the benefits far exceed staying physically fit. On these hot and humid summer days, I like to get an early start if my schedule permits.

If I can survive the tricky first tenth of a mile on our busy county highway to get to the road less traveled, I can relish the rest of the walk. Common sense tells me to stay alert for oncoming traffic and dodge the fleet of various vehicles by stepping to the side.

Sunny walk by Bruce Stambaugh

Once I’ve completed the macadam gauntlet to the safety of the township road, I turn east into the morning sun. After a few steps uphill, the road unfolds before me, rolling gradually down into a low, sweeping valley formed by the Wisconsin Glacier 10,000 years ago. Farm fences on both sides squeeze against the chip and seal roadway, making it seem even narrower than it already is.

Eastern Kingbird by Bruce Stambaugh
This Eastern Kingbird and it’s mate often greet me as I walk along the township road.
I fondly anticipate these next moments. It’s the same road, but never the same walk. My audience waits, and every crowd is different. It’s not the Olympics by any means. In fact, it more closely resembles a circus.

I especially enjoy the high wire acts. The Eastern Bluebirds, including the juveniles still testing their wings, play their own version of leapfrog with me from the roadside power lines. Greeting me with melodious songs, the furtive birds wait until I nearly reach them before they flutter a few yards down the lines and land again.

I walk some more. They fly some more. The pattern is repeated a quarter-mile until the power lines run out. At that point, the beautiful birds make an arch over the hayfield and light upon the wires behind me to await my return trip.

Heifers by Bruce Stambaugh

Once the road flattens out, a congregation of Holstein heifers crowded head to tail beneath a black walnut tree suspiciously eye me. As I stroll, their heads turn as one, ears twitching, tails swatting pesky flies. Sensing a potentially easier prey, a few of the flies follow me.

Thankfully, a flashy yellow ball cap saved my baldhead. Still, I flail away at the persistent insects. I’m glad no other humans are around to witness my comical machinations. By the time I reach the valley’s shallow brook, the flies relent.

Jonas Yoder farm by Bruce Stambaugh
I usually turn around and head back home at the Jonas Yoder farm a mile east of my home.

Continuing east past the newly built Amish schoolhouse, the Barn Swallows, Tree Swallows and Purple Martins all start chattering to me at once, circling overhead as if they were asking me to follow.

Buggy by Bruce Stambaugh

At Jonas Yoder’s farm, I break the law. A U-turn begins my return trip. I usually walk down the center of the road until I hear a vehicle or buggy. On average, only one or the other passes me on the township road.

Song Sparrow by Bruce Stambaugh
One of several Song Sparrows that I see on my walk.
The American Robins and Song Sparrows are all used to me by now, and keep on singing in place. A young flicker, still with no brilliant red on the back of its head, flits from fence post to tree to utility pole. Poison ivy vines, leaves shiny as Christmas holly, have nearly over grown every locust post. A Green Heron escorts me back up the incline until it settles atop the tallest tree in a dense woodlot.

Down the arduous homestretch again, my next-door neighbor’s dogs unceremoniously announce my arrival. I hit the trifecta. I feel welcomed, renewed and refreshed.

Purple Martins by Bruce Stambaugh
Young Purple Martins wait patiently on a dead tree limb while being fed.
Poison ivy by Bruce Stambaugh
Poison ivy vines have over run many of the locust fence posts along the roadway.
Female Mallard by Bruce Stambaugh
This female Mallard, and sometimes its male mate, is often swimming in a pool of the small stream when I walk by.

Amish school by Bruce Stambaugh
An Amish school is being built in the pasture of Jonas Yoder’s farm.

This column appeared in The Bargain Hunter, Millersburg, OH.

© Bruce Stambaugh 2012

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