February 1 thru May 1

For as long as I can remember I have wanted to live at the beach. At first I said I would live on any beach in any climate.   With time I amended that to a beach where I could swim in the ocean without a wetsuit for at least a few months. I wasted many a realtor’s weekend investigating little run down houses and condos well out of our price range.

Then the market crashed. We decided it was now or never. That’s how we came to own a little spot on a barrier island in the Atlantic off the Florida coast. (That’s our little slice of paradise in the photo.)

I envisioned myself spending mornings writing and afternoons on the beach. What I didn’t count on was my ridiculous need to spend every waking moment outdoors. Blowing sand and computers are not a good mix. My daily routine consisted of: walking to Cumberland gas station to purchase the newspaper, breakfast and coffee, yoga on the balcony, possible trip to the fish market or town, lunch, three mile walk, ride bike, hit the beach and read by 3 PM, shower, sit on the balcony until the sun goes down and the no-see- ums start biting, watch Jeopardy, read and channel surf. Whew. Believe me, my days were full.

Diligent use of sunblock, hats, and umbrellas didn’t prevent new spots of skin cancer from popping up. Visiting the dermatologist twice a year for freezing and slicing became part of the routine.

But it is what happened at the beach that made my wintertime summer vacation so wonderful. I read and read and then read some more.

I’m not proud to announce that I wasn’t much of a reader when I was a kid. I couldn’t sit still, found it tedious, and – most important—I felt guilty. I never liked to get caught reading because that meant I was lazy. While I eventually learned to love reading I didn’t get over the guilt until this year. At the beach, I was alone most days – no one to catch me being lazy. And let me tell you, reading without guilt is a totally new and renewing experience. It was life changing and I will never revert to my guilt- ridden ways. Nesting with a pile of books is a vacation anywhere.

I began with the first of Louise Penney’s mysteries, Still Life. I loved discovering Penney and followed up with her second Inspector Gamache whodunit, A Rule Against Murder.  I shifted to non- fiction and read the Johnny Carson biography by his longtime lawyer Henry Bushkin. Next, an early Harlan Coben thriller, Pat Conroy’s My Losing Season and Maeve Binchy’s A Week In Winter (I miss her already).   It’s an eclectic mix. I love a page-turner but many times enjoy a book I can put down and return to a week or so later. I call them my mosey-on -over reads. I discovered how enjoyable a slower paced read could be when I read Anne Tyler’s, Saint Maybe. I loved that slice of everyday life and stretched out the read so I wouldn’t have to say goodbye to characters I had grown to love.

My summertime summer is underway and my book bag is bulging with page- turners and mosey-on-overs. I’m itching to dig into Alex Kava’s latest , Kimberly McCreight’s Reconstructing Amelia, The Burgess Boys by Elizabeth Strout and Penney’s The Cruelest Month.  I’m not allowing myself to open a book until the clock strikes 12 Noon. Mornings are for writing. And this time I mean business.