It was humid and overcast, almost perfect weather for exploring the shoreline on Big Talbot Island. I say almost, only because we barely saw a sliver of the sun while we traversed over bleached-out trees and high, sandy bluffs. The air had a slight chill and the wind could be felt more and more as we made our way through the maritime forest. At the end of the shoreline trail, we came to an opening that led down a bluff and into what is called Boneyard Beach. It was perfect timing – low tide was at its peak and we had plenty of room to play in between the bluffs and the beach. The gray skies matched the muted reflection of Nassau Sound, still and peaceful waters until a passing boat left small waves in its wake. The salt water was clear as glass, too, so clean we could see tiny fiddler crabs dancing beneath the surface.
One tree had been pulled closer to the water by the changing tides over time and was dressed in bright green algae, unlike the drier trees closer to the bluffs that had been whitened to the color of bone by the harsh Florida sun. This algae-covered tree stump served as a shelter for what looked like hundreds and hundreds of sea snails. Some snails rested above the water line, living off the moisture of the dead bark. Other snails, the much larger ones, seemed to be happily hiding from civilization in pools of salt water in the sand or from the bottom of the stump. Whenever one of the girls or I stepped near the top of the felled trunk, the piece closest to the water, the surrounding sand made a whooshing noise as if there was no ground beneath our feet. It was like we were walking over sponges and the bottom wanted to give out from the weight of us. We left the dead tree stump, and the snails, alone after a few minutes.
After nearly two hours of walking up and down the shoreline and finding fiddler crabs, sea snails, and clam shells still intact, the girls and I realized how exhausted and hungry we were. The three of us climbed back up the cliff to the trail, a point of entry made recognizable only by a strategically placed and very large live oak tree trunk. Once we were back in the land of evergreens, live oaks, and sago palms, the girls talked about how they couldn’t wait to go back. They’ve already declared, “It’s better than any other field trip we’ve ever been on!” I was also favorably compared to a tour guide.