As my mother read a paperback in the car, my brother and I — 10 and 9 respectively — pulled a float past breaking waves and drifted in the Gulf of Mexico for what felt like hours.
Our inflatable float, in our minds a Huckleberry Finn-style adventure raft, probably was a violation of every beach safety rule known to man. The same could be said for my mother’s preoccupation with the latest Stephen King novel. She read on, oblivious as her children bobbed up and down and away on the high seas.
When she eventually found us, our freckled faces burned by the sun, we were dangerously far from the car and quite proud of our sea-faring feats. “Anything could have happened,” she said. And that’s what made it so fun, we thought.
If my siblings and I were fearless around water, it’s because our family vacations were always on the Gulf of Mexico — Galveston. Matagorda. Corpus Christi. South Padre. My treasured childhood memories are filled with sun-dappled water — greens and golds — the taste of salt and a soundtrack of serenading gulls.
My best beach days aren’t behind me. They’re just different, curated with a little more caution. I slather on copious amounts of sunblock and wear protective sunglasses. I avoid riptides. I watch that my nieces and nephews do, too.
I’ve come to appreciate quiet walks or runs on a winter beach in Galveston.
And I’ve come to appreciate the hundreds, maybe thousands, of people who work year-round to protect these beautiful assets that lure millions here every year.
Each May, Coast Monthly celebrates the beaches and the people who keep them beautiful. Because of them, our best beach days are ahead of us. We hope you enjoy and have a safe beach season.