We’ve been in Pinellas County for almost three months now, and my darling girl does love the water.  Here, Maggie models the latest in UPF 50 swimwear for the whitest-white-girl-that-ever-did-white set.  Wrist-to-ankles with zinc woven into the fabric, and worth every penny since sunscreen that won’t kill you or give you other cancers costs a mint and thus it makes sense to cover 90% of her body.

Today we went to Madeira Beach for about an hour, a departure from our usual Sunset Beach on Treasure Island.  Maggie has no respect whatsoever for the water–the soaked curls in the photo are a result of her crawling off toward the water’s edge while I was unfolding a chair and nearly getting swept off to Cuba before I caught up to her.  File under “Mothers, Negligent.”

There’s no good segue here: I can’t talk about the oil spill without crying.  I’ve been coming to this area to visit family since I was the same age that Maggie is in this photograph and there is nothing about this situation that doesn’t break my heart.  Parts of the Gulf Coast are going to be ruined for the remainder of my lifetime, possibly the rest of Maggie’s too.  It’s coming this way, I hear; the Panhandle has already been hit.  She’s too young to remember this trip; she may never know how this beach was before the oil.  Unemployment here is already terrible and if tourism takes the expected hit, it will only get worse.  My sister and brother-in-law had hoped to move here within the next few years, but he’s in tourism and truly, there’s nothing for him here if the oil ruins local tourism.  I’ve done what I can, donating enormous bottles of Dawn to cleanup organizations and encouraging others to do the same, but the sick, dropped-stomach helpless feeling persists.

But in the meantime, before the landscape changes, we’re enjoying the hell out of the area.  I’ve declared the remainder of this week and next “St. Pete Appreciation Week” and we’re going to  At least, we’re going to do it up as only as semi-single mother and her demanding almost-toddler can–in moderate doses with lots of sunscreen, hydration breaks, and frequent stops to air-conditioned places.  The Dali Museum, the Sunken Gardens, the fruit winery that makes a carrot Merlot that once sent Tom away gasping and clutching his tradtionalist metaphorical pearls in disgusted disbelief.  (Maggie can be my driver.)  I signed Maggie up for private at-home swim lessons in my parents’ pool so we can get the most out of our water time here and back at home.  We’re going to go all over her daddy’s former stomping grounds (he’s a Floridian born and bred, of course) and see what he saw when he was small.

If she can’t remember how it used to be, maybe Tom and I can remember enough for her.


2 thoughts on “Beachin’

  1. Damn it. This makes me angry. I am so glad you were able to take Maggie here (and get some photos in her full-body sunsuit armor) but I am so sad and angry by the destruction of the Gulf Coast. BP has been saying any criticism of them is "anti-British" and unfair. I say it's actually "anti-asshole" and totally justified.Sorry for the anger. It just breaks my heart. I hope you had/are having a lovely time nevertheless.

  2. It makes me angry too. *hulk smash* We've been reading "The Lorax" a LOT over the last few weeks. "Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, it's not going to get better…it's just not." The worst part for me is that I definitely feel culpable in this whole mess. We drive an internal combustion vehicle, our condo certainly isn't powered by solar even though it's Hawaii and our landlord would do well to look into that. We do what we can but we still aren't doing our best. Even donating Dawn dish soap is perpetuating the problem–it's bottled in plastic, which is…derived from petroleum! BLERG. I'd like someone smarter than I am to tell me why we can't ban high fructose corn syrup and then use the surplus corn to make biodegradable corn-based, non-petroleum plastics. Why won't that work? Two birds with one stone, right there.Anti-asshole, indeed. You know if it were an American company on the British shores there would be a massive anti-American outcry. Did I also hear that the CEO was quoted as saying "I just want my life back?" Did I dream that? If he actually did, I'd like to feed him his balls. Rage on.

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