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This is another view of Fort Island Gulf Beach. This bird obviously isn't a gull---I don't know what he is---but he obviously hasn't read the sign. He was the only non-gull I saw that day, but doesn't he look very triumphant with that sunbeam shining down on him overhead? Hundreds of gulls were whirling around, snatching french fries from people's hands. He was just standing on this sign flapping his wings and squawking. It's so easy for me to believe when I look at this photo that birds are descended from the dinosaurs.
I'm not sure of the exact location of this little cove. Within walking distance of the beach, I think. In the background, you can see cedar trees. Cedar trees are a frequent feature of the northwest coast. Another reason I love this part of Florida's coast so much. One never thinks of "rockbound" when imagining the coast of Florida, but there are places along the northwest where it is quite rocky. The shores in this part of the coast are often grassy rath
er than sandy; beautiful to look at but not so nice for swimming.
I believe that this man and his son are visible on this horizon in this photograph. You can just barely see them. This photograph shows how this part of the gulf looks: points jutting off the land and little islands everywhere. You can see buildings and palm trees on the other side. I like the way the leaves here are catching the light.
What really impressed me most about that part of Citrus County was all the palm trees. Is there such a thing as a 'palm barrens'? Because that's what we saw driving out to the point. I don't ordinarily photograph clumps of trees, but this particular one has an unusuall dimensional aspect. Perhaps it's all the different greens that give this effect; or the depth of the shadows contrasting with the brightness of the sun on the palms in front. I don't remember taking this photo; I'm thinking Don must have, though it isn't the sort of photograph he usually liked either. At any rate, I find it really beautiful (or perhaps more accurately, I find the scene it evokes really beautiful).
While I found Fort Island Gulf Beach charming, I don't think we'd have gone back there as often as we did but for the beautiful wetlands we drove through to get there. I haven't been in years, but I remember a whole forest of palm trees with intervening stretches like this one (which does only a very mediocre job of capturing the way all the grass was sparkling in the sun.
One of the things I love is to see the reflection of the sun in millions of leaves or blades of grass. It was a magnificent spectacle on this particular afternoon in March 1997.
I am particularly fond of this photo of a little boy---my stepson, actually---which I took at Fort Island Gulf Beach almost 9 years ago. I love the earnest, dedicated expression on his face and the combination of the primary colors in his shorts and shirt with the green bucket and blue-green hat. It was one of my late husband's favorite photos.
This particular long-ago little Floridian (he is in his teens now) was having a wonderful time scooping up water from the gulf and using it to make a moat around the sand castle he was constructing with his sister. He stumbled into the foreground of a landscape photograph I hadn't intended anyone to occupy, but in the end turned out to be the one thing that made the photo worth keeping. I don't usually take photographs for general display with people in them (at least, not intentionally) but sometimes they turn up in the photo and end up being the main interest.
Because this is really just a detail from a larger photo, the quality ain't great, even by my amateur's standards. Never mind; as in so much else in life, it's the thought that counts!
Fort Island Gulf Beach is small but photogenic beach that Don and I stumbled on years ago when we were driving along US 19. It's in Citrus County, near Crystal River. It's one of the small Nature Coast beaches. It's located near a nuclear power station which stands in startling contrast to the incredibly beautiful wetlands and palm forests that surround it. When I visited, there were eagle nests all over the place.
You find the beautiful broad beaches of most people's imagined Florida further south. You can see breathtaking photographs of the amazingly beautiful southwest Florida coast in the very useful beach guide here (the photo showing the white sand of Caladesi Island and Madeira Beach are alone worth clicking for).
But North Florida Gulf beaches are usually small and comparatively unimpressive in scope. The sand of many of these beaches is a rich brownish yellow color that I find particularly beautiful as a counterpoint to the clear blue of the Gulf, but does not have the paradisical effect of the white sugar sands further south or in parts of the Panhandle. Nevertheless it is charming in its way.
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