Something happened over the past couple of weeks. September’s sometimes oppressive heat and humidity has given way to late October’s cooler weather, northeast winds, and azure blue skies. It is one of the nicest times of year to be at the beach, even if it is a bit chilly for swimming.
I didn’t really notice when it happened. With all the stuff that’s going on in our family right now, fall just snuck up on me. I vaguely remember a few days last week that had the crisp, clear fall sky, but this week, the weather has turned decidedly cooler. Friday and Saturday last week brought a persistent Nor ‘Easter, with it’s signature drizzling rain and blustery winds. Today, the wind had died down some, but was out of the north west. I’m glad I got out on my bike this morning, because it’s forecast to be breezy the next couple of days. I have a problems sometimes when the winds are gusting to 32 miles per hour … which is the Neptune Beach forecast for tomorrow.
I wish I was better positioned to enjoy it.
Last night, with the chill in the air and a long day working on the townhouse over on Aquatic Drive, I make chili for Sunday dinner. I don’t really have a chili recipe. I’m not so sure anyone really does except maybe for Alton Brown. I used a couple pounds of ground beef and a pound of ground pork, most of a Vidalia onion coarsely chopped, most of an entire bulb of garlic, two cans of whole, peeled, stewed tomatoes, quartered, two cans of red kidney beans, and the following spices, all in amounts “to taste”: Chili powder, ground cumin, smoked paprika, mustard powder, ancho chili powder, ground cayanne pepper, and salt. Oh, and a beer. I uses a Yuengling.
How did it work? Sweat the onion and garlic, brown the meat in the same pot. Add everything else, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until people show up … the longer the better.
I made cornbread to go with the chili, and we all took our steaming bowls out on the deck with a fire in the copper firepit. It was a very pleasant evening.
It’s cool enough at the beach now that the bugs are pretty much gone. The no-see-ems and mosquitoes don’t tolerate the cold particularly well, so in these evenings, in a sweater, sweatshirt, or long-sleeve “T”, a fire going … it’s about my favorite time at the beach.
I went down to the beach the other night. Andie was having a PEO thing, and I wasted as much time as I could over at St. Johns Town Center, then went down to the beach. The sand that can so easily scorch your feet in the summer heat is downright cold on a fall evening. I stepped onto the loose sand leading to the dune walkover, and the sand was cold under my feet. No matter how many times I walk on the beach in the evening, it always seems to surprise me when it’s cold. It happens in the summer, too, and that’s when it’s most surprising. You can be out on the sand all day, and as the sun starts to slip behind the condos at the beach, the sand cedes its heat very quickly. I’ve stepped into the shadows and had the sand be 40 degrees cooler within about 5 minutes of losing the sun.
So, cool sand, cool evenings, a warm fire, a hot bowl of chili … I know I quoted Buffett in another recent post, but I’ve sometimes said “Everything I’ve learned worth knowing I learned listening to Jimmy Buffett records”. That’s probably not entirely true, but in a song recorded in the early 90’s called “The Coast is Clear”, he wrote;
“They’re closing down the hangouts, air is turning cool. Shutting off the SuperSlide, kids are back in school. Tourist traps are empty, vacancies abound, it’s almost like it used to be before the circus came to town …”
That’s fall at the beach. And cold sand. For those of us who have decided to risk the hurricanes and live here, it’s really a delightful time of the year.