Sunday: We went shopping and then, briefly enough, looked for a beach. The supermarket is several blocks away, south on Harding Avenue (Route A1A) from the Bal Harbour Shops. We didn't spot it at first because the entire grocery store is on the second floor, above its own parking lot. One rides up a rubberized moving walkway, and another one brings you back to the ground, grocery cart and all. Selections and prices were good, but the store was filled with people from all over the world, speaking a variety of languages, and many of the patrons were boorish beyond belief. If you stopped to check a price, they tried to run over you; if they stopped to check a price, nothing you could do would induce them to shift their cart so that you could eventually get by.
Outside, I met an old woman walking her dog, which was one of those black and white sausages the size of a large Chihuahua but with the face – and tail – of a beagle.
“I've been here thirty-four years.”
“I like your shift – it looks like a design by Australian aborigines. And that hat looks so practical – cute, too, but practical.”
“It is very practical. One mustn't burn, you know. Yes. I got the dress for twenty dollar. I think. I think it was twenty dollar.”
“No! But it's very nice.”
“Twenty! And my shoes -- ten, new! You can live here very reasonable if you try.”
We drove a few blocks north, to Haulover Beach, which I had spotted on the drive from Lauderdale. Parking is five dollars. Here, it's a bargain. There are numerous picnic tables and barbecue grills in the shade of the palms. Parking, so scarce near the hotels, is plentiful. The beach is right across the sea wall, steep and narrow, with small combers curling in near the north jetty of the river entrance. Charter cruisers, motor speedboats, and ski-doos roared in and out of the harbor, leaping from wave to wave. Lifeguards whistled and yelled at the swimmers who came too near the jetty or the rip tides. Families haggled, in several languages, over the first or the last hot dog. Kites whipped around in circles and chased each other down.
Beloved and I walked along the ocean, barefoot in the sand, which was soft even at water's edge, as the tide was at its height. Brown children ran by by us continually, close enough to grab and hug, were such a thing permissible. Others bobbed around in the green waves, laughing and teasing one another. These were mostly locals, and the hominess of the scene was an absolute joy.
Beloved stopped and bent over.
“Hey! These are not bad shells here.”
“That's amazing; you'd think they would all be vacuumed up, with so many people.”
But no one else was shelling. I have read somewhere that only tourists shell. I don't know; if we lived here I'm sure we would both pick them up.
She bent over again. “Look! Coral!” Busy hands.
On the way back to the car, we stopped by a grove full of sizzling braziers and the sounds of families murmuring to one another in warm Spanish. A man leaned on his bicycle just inside the shade line, watching the beach and the harbor. He was short, very muscular, and red as a lobster.
“Hi, ladies. Liking it?”
“Oh, yes, very much!”
“I love it. I live about two miles up the beach. I come here all the time, just to watch people being happy.”
We could feel the intensity of the sun, and moved into the shade with him.
“Yeah, that's right, girls, that can cook you out there. I'm in the shade because I was out on the water all morning.”
“Riding around or fishing?”
“How'd you do?”
“Two good ones, about four dinner's worth.”
He peered at me through his sunglasses.
“You're not from here.”
“Wow, Oregon. Great.”
“You'd like it – rainbow trout. Not as sunny, though.”
He smiled. We watched the crowd together, totally in the present, while Beloved sat on a rock and pawed through her new treasures.