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Shell Shocked: A walk on the beach
July 9, 2019

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One thirty-minute walk on the beaches of Sanibel can produce a kaleidoscope as funny, bizarre, and spectacular as a classic Fellini movie. I know whereof I speak. It happened to me. I decided to take a little stroll on the beach. The first thing I noticed was a young father who was nonchalantly holding a leash in each hand - one for a little black miniature poodle and another for a year-and-a-half-old baby. From the way he was leading each, it wasn't clear if the father knew the difference between pet and child.

A few hundred yards further down a number of strollers seemed to slow down at a particular spot from what had been a brisk pace moments ago. I looked toward the water line to see if some amphibious object bad landed on the beach from another planet. But the strollers weren't looking in the direction of the water line. They were looking inland. Then I saw what they were gawking at - two young women were sunbathing topIess.

Since this scene took place in a crowded part of the Sanibel beach, the young ladies were either testing the water, so to speak, or they were completely oblivious to the fact that they were very far from a legitimate nudist beach. The strollers extended the art of feigned nonchalance to new heights. It is truly amazing how people can pretend that there's nothing unusual going on, while at the same time practicing their peripheral vision skills almost to the point of personal danger. I could swear that some of the gawkers had a problem getting their eyeballs back to the center of their eyes.

Not too much further down the beach was the mad kitest - if that's the right word. Here was this guy with a beard down to his chest with a variety of kites that were guaranteed to frighten small children. Each kite had the face of a famous movie monster from Frankenstein to Dracula, the Wolfman and the Phantom of the Opera. And, finally, there was the obligatory sand castle several hundred yards further down the beach. But this was no ordinary sand castle. It was an entire medieval fortress complete with turrets, spires, towers, as well as a castle, all recreated in amazing detail. If I didn't know better I would swear that this masterpiece was created in the middle of the night by Sanibel elves and gremlins! It was clear that the sand artists had spent a fair amount of time on their creation. I'm certain that whoever passed by this spectacle of sand dreaded its impending destruction by an upcoming wave.

And, finally, a scene that made my stroll complete. It was a small rubber raft that seemed to hold what appeared to be about a dozen teenagers. It reminded me of the famous circus scene where twenty clowns emerge from a tiny car. How all those teenagers fit into that tiny raft, I'll never know, but they were having a grand old time trying to keep it afloat.

All of these scenes played themselves out during the first fifteen minutes of my stroll. To me the stroll crystalized the ongoing kaleidoscope of humanity and spectacle on any given day on the beaches of Sanibel. Who could ask for more in our unique island paradise?

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Regular Size Island Reporter, Captiva Current, Sanibel-Captiva Islander