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   I was born on the first day of summer and that pretty much set the tone for me.  I'm not
a big fan of winter.  My mood starts to change with the first cold spell and it goes downhill
from there.  I realize that people who live in a northern climate would undoubtedly smile
at what I consider "cold," but, even in my part of the world, this winter has seemed extra
chilly, extra dreary and extra long.  I am so ready for spring.
  When I was a child and complained about winter, my father would say:  "Close your eyes
and picture yourself on the coast on a summer day.  The sand is hot and the water is warm.
You can smell the Coppertone and your mother's fried chicken waiting in the picnic basket.
There.  Don't you feel better?"  (Not really.  When I opened my eyes it was still winter.)
  But, desperate for even a minute's reprieve from this seemingly un-ending winter, I
recently found myself thinking of my dad's mind trips to the coast.  Growing up in New
Orleans, in my family, going to "the coast" always meant going to the Mississippi Gulf Coast:
the ancient oak trees along Beach Boulevard, the beautiful beaches - with fine white sand
the consistency of granulated sugar - the hundred hokey little souvenir shops, the
fishing piers bravely making their way out into the Gulf, seagulls gliding and swooping over
the water.
  Funny, but, all these years later, that 5 minute trip to the coast really did make me feel
better.  Maybe it was the summer sun and warm Gulf water.  Or maybe it was the comforting
memory of the smell of Coppertone and my mother's fried chicken waiting in the picnic
   Whatever it was, I enjoyed it so much I decided to linger a little longer on the Gulf Coast
beaches.  Searching for the photos on this page was a very welcome respite from the winter
drearies.  I hope you enjoy the trip, too.
   Meanwhile, my daffodils have bloomed.  Spring can't be far away.
                             --  Nancy
The photos on this page are from the coasts of Louisiana, Mississippi,
Alabama and the Florida panhandle.
To the Coast
Biloxi, MS lighthouse, constructed in 1848, is shown above, not long
after Hurricane Katrina in 2005;  below, a current photo, with the
Lighthouse Park and Visitors Center complex visible in the background.  
The lighthouse was renovated in 2009 and the complex opened in 2011.
If time and circumstance should take me far
From my sea-swept home, each June I'd know
A same sweet pain that swelled within my heart,
When summer set the sand dunes all aglow.

The box of seashells gathered in my youth
Would, for a moment, hold a sandy lane
By dunes and fence and sails and seabird's call,
And I would close my eyes and walk it once again.

--  C. G. Berry
Someone once asked me for my definition of joy.  The first thing that popped
into my mind was a child at the seashore.  You give a child a beach and a toy
shovel and you have given them hours of joy and a lifetime of memories.
-- Joyce Kramer
Many venerable oaks on the Mississippi Coast were lost to Katrina, but the ancient
Friendship Oak survived.  It's located on the University of Southern Mississippi
Gulf Park campus in Long Beach (pictured above days after the hurricane).  A
current photo is below.  The inscription on its plaque reads:  "I was a sapling when
Columbus sailed and I was grown by Napoleon's reign.  I am now over 500 years
old.  Those who enter my shadow are supposed to remain friends throughout their
lifetime.  There is not an alumna of the college who does not possess, tucked away
in her treasures, a twig, a leaf or an acorn that came out of my heart."
This home in Biloxi, MS, was constructed in 1840 and became known
as the Father Ryan house after the priest, who was a well-known poet,
lived in the house in the 1870's.  It was a popular photo opportunity
for tourists who noticed the palm tree growing through the front
steps.  The photo on the postcard above was taken in 1912.
The photo above was taken in 2005, when the home was being used as
a bed and breakfast -- the palm tree remains in its long-accepted place.
Sadly, Hurricane Katrina destroyed the historic house, but, as the
photo below shows, the famous old palm tree wasn't ready to call it
a day.  It still stands proudly on the home's former site.
Grief fades, joy comes.  We don't know why or how, but
everything seems better at the seashore.  
-- Matthew Clarke