Old columns are journal of sorts

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 8, 2013

I wish I had kept a daily journal as several of my friends have through the years. I thought about that as I thumbed through my book, “Bylines: Selections from Nina’s Notes” published in 1982.

Within those pages, I found a column titled “An Afternoon Stroll,” describing a leisurely walk with my husband during a visit in St. Andrews, Fla. We snatched a few carefree hours to meander along the shore of the near-by lake and follow it to the bay. Nothing spectacular happened; we just enjoyed the scenery and being together. I had spent many hours in the area as a child, frolicking with my cousin during summer vacation when my aunt took us for afternoon swims in the bay. I always loved to return to this place that sparked such fond memories.

Out on the lake, a playful duck dived, exposing its tail feathers briefly before disappearing, then reappearing yards away from its gliding companions.

As our footprints crushed the damp sand along the shoreline, the noon-day sun glistened on the bay and a silvery fish leaped high. It gracefully broke the waters to form a perfect circle, then its descent dissolved into a ripple. Nearby, several white birds stood in a row in less than an inch of water. Behind them, two boats tied to a pole moved ever so slightly. It was a picture of serenity, despite the backdrop of an industrial seaport with two large ships silhouetted against the sky.

I was ready to frame a shot of a fallen tree, bleached by the salt air and sun, when closer observation revealed heavy lettering marring its natural beauty. Even as I moved to the other side, I had hopes for a unique snapshot. It was not to be. Someone had defaced it, too. There was no use pointing my camera dangling from a cord on my neck.

Those marks were not all that sullied the scene I remembered as so tranquil. Some of what the sea had swallowed and regurgitated lay before us—aluminum cans, a tennis shoe sole, a rotting work glove, the decaying jawbone of some creature with four sharp teeth, a curved bone, pieces of wood and a tree trunk. A broken retaining wall and the gnarled network of a magnolia tree roots exposed by shifting sand revealed signs of Hurricane Frederick’s presence.

We turned away from the bay and passed deep sea fishing boats anchored at a dock. We browsed in a souvenir shop where seashells and novelties made of shells lined the shelves. Some old-fashioned roses climbing on the front of a restaurant attracted our attention and we stopped to enjoy their fragrance.

We wandered into a Greek bakery and bought some goodies just out of the oven to eat on the way back.

With no journal, the day would have soon been forgotten. I am thankful I can look back on it through my column recorded in “Bylines: Selections from Nina’s Notes.”