Thursday, November 06, 2014

The sand shortage

On yesterday's New York Times op-ed page, there was an article with the title "Why Sand Is Disappearing."  Who knew?  In fact as I read this, it was realized that this phenomenon had been experienced here recently.

The gist of the opinion piece or detail of scientific facts is that beaches all over the world for ages naturally replenished themselves before each summer.  Due to stronger forces of nature, extensive development of shorelines, and rising sea levels, "75 to 90 percent of the world's natural beaches are disappearing."  This is not yet so visible to observers as beach replenishment activity, in which huge amounts of sand dredged from coastal waters or shipped from inland mines are brought in to eroding beaches and reinforced by barriers or re-created dunes.

Not all sand is the same, and some works better than others.  In fact, not all sand is acceptable sand at all.  A few months ago in the summer, I drove out to Fire Island National Seashore for what I expected to be a relaxing afternoon, with towels,  books, and cold water in hand.  This beach east of the crowded, heavily commercial, extra wide and man made Jones Beach is one that was idyllic in comparison.  It had soft white natural beach sand that was the height of comfort, to the extent one is into that at a beach.  There was no visible trash and the water was clear.

Since the early 1980's this had been the beach of choice, for myself and for the family.  Jones Beach at times was not neglected with family as its array of snacks, soft serve ice cream, and top notch hot dogs attracted.  For those just looking for primarily a beach, however, the National Seashore was the place to go.

Going out this most recent time was the first time in maybe seven or eight years, as circumstances changed and children no longer needed to be taken.  I was really looking forward to the experience once again.  As I walked it was, I admit, damn hot, and this was no longer a complete positive.  The ocean breeze was not as cooling as remembered, but the mission was underway.  My towels finally on the beach and my book open, the reading began, and it was just not too comfortable.  I got up and stretched, walked along the shoreline, but something was different.  Maybe it was just me.  Things do change.

When I arrived home earlier than expected, family members asked how it was.  My thought was that perhaps the beach experience had finally been outgrown, but what I said was, "I just didn't enjoy lying in the dirt."  I didn't, and then thought no more about it.

Reading "Why Sand Is Disappearing" led to the realization that I actually had been lying in dirt and it was the beach that had changed, not necessarily me.  Hopefully the beautiful white sandy beaches of Forte dei Marmi in Tuscany are intact, and we can go there again to see if beaches are still the attraction to me that they once were.  If not, at least the food will be good.

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