BALCONY WITH A VIEW

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For sixteen days my soul is lulled into a state of soporific bliss as I wander the unspoilt beach on the East Coast of Florida.  New Smyrna Beach stretches for thirteen unspoilt miles to the North and South of our condo residence these last weeks.

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Now, newly returned from the States and as I wait for my mind and spirit to catch up with my body, I would like to share some of the amazing and moving  photographs of the landscape, wildlife and towns. To do them justice I will write three consecutive posts – one on each topic. 

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From my mother’s and my first midnight arrival the sound of the ocean is bewitching. Not the gentle roll of waves I am used to from smaller beaches in the Mediterranean or even in the UK. Rather an unfathomable rolling roar as one crash upon the next reverberates along the coastline. Initially frightening, then quickly hypnotic and calming.

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Daylight ushers in a view of almost surreal beauty; unimaginable to our tired eyes. Stretching ahead is the widest of horizons; ocean meeting sky in a perfect horizontal line. The beach fades in the distance to our left and right, absorbed by the gentle sea mist. 

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The magic of the ocean becomes all pervasive and I know its sounds, sights and scents will inhabit my soul in the months and years ahead. I am at one with this mighty force; finding transcendental tranquility with the new-found union with nature. 

Each day solitary joggers pass in front of us as we sit on the balcony. The odd cyclists too make an early communion with the beach.

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Walkers too share its delight. Observing, we soon join them for long contemplative strolls. Ahead is a woman deep into her yoga, seemingly oblivious to the scatterings of folk around her. Sheer beauty and simplicity and surely how all yoga should be practiced. 

Many mealtimes are shared on the balcony and from here we note the quiet piercing rise of the sun – later I feel its blistering heat.

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A heat that the first few days is more a wall of hotness and humidity but  quickly we adjust to this new phenomena. We watch the placid roll of waves turn to an unruly fierceness as first the tropical storm and later Hurricane Hermine approaches.

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As the waves power their way to the shore mounds of seaweed are deposited high up on the beach. If this is just the edge of the hurricane I am glad not to witness its full ferocity. 

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On every visit to the beach I’m mesmerised by the various sensations underfoot. At first my soles sink in the soft near white sand until they resemble zombie feet! Then there is the harder darker wet sand which sends a jolt of pain on each step into the ankle as this feels harder than concrete. Then finally the tantalising breathtaking walk in the surf, a satisfying sinking feeling with each step, a small footprint indent left behind immediately filled and eradicated by the next wave.

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Around us, close to us is an abundance of wildlife – turtles, pelicans, dolphins, egrets, geckos to name a few. More of these in my next post…

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All photos ©Annika Perry

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82 thoughts on “BALCONY WITH A VIEW

  1. Sherri says:

    Gorgeous photos and narrative Annika. Interestingly, I write about my first time at a beach in California as a 19 year old, how I was so mesmerised by the thunderous rollers – excited and frightened all rolled into one! So different to the more gentle lapping of waves I was used to on Sussex shores, in comparision at least. What a fantastic view and place to stay. Glorious! 🙂 xxxx

    • Annika Perry says:

      Thank you, Sherri and I loved that you shared your memory of the thunderous rollers of the American coast when young. Frightened is definitely the word as well…when we arrived at midnight in the pitch black the roar seemed phenomenal and overwhelming and so different from the quiet lapping UK shores. Soon I came to love the sound, quite addictive and soothing…memories…It was the most amazing place I’ve ever stayed!

  2. literaryeyes says:

    This is the Florida I know and love – although I love the inland places too, especially the prairies and pinelands with the marshes and cypress domes. Your descriptions are as beautiful as your photos.

    • Annika Perry says:

      Cypress domes?? Prairies?? I have to go back! These places sound idyllic and like something from childhood and so tempting. As with all holidays there is always so much we wanted to do but oh too little time.

  3. Anonymous says:

    What a brilliant holiday Annika. I get the feeling that you could have stayed longer simply spending your time on the balcony watching all the wild life with a backing track of the Atlantic washing up on the beach.Sounds idyllic – except the hurricane of course. That sounds plain scary!

    Mike

    • Annika Perry says:

      You’re right, Mike I could have stayed longer apart from the fact that my heart strings were tugging to get home to my son (+husband)! I’d never been away from my son for more than a week before so this was a baptism by fire for both of us – which actually went brilliantly. As for the hurricane I wasn’t too scared although with the non-stop running commentary and warnings on the news I was becoming edgy – made sure we were stocked up with water and the torches by our bedside!

  4. myraho78 says:

    Oh! My oh my! What a beautiful view! I can see in my mind how those strong waves moved in and beautiful music comes with them!The quietness after the waves crashed! I love the sea! Thaks for sharing.

    • Annika Perry says:

      Thank you so much for your lovely comment. 😀 The sound of the sea quickly became hypnotic and indeed, beautiful music. I know what you mean about the quiet after the crashing of waves – what was so unusual here was that the quiet never came as the crashing was heard from further along the coast. For the first day quite disconcerting but I quickly adapted to this giant ocean!

  5. gwynnrogers says:

    I am an ardent lover of beaches and the water. Your pictures are serene and breathtaking. I felt at peace just reading your post and viewing your pictures. What a lovely place to re-group.

    • Annika Perry says:

      Gwynn, thank you so much for your lovely comment.😀 The ocean is so often a perfect place for healing and relaxing and after this holiday I can definitely see why. I am glad the photos conveyed the serenity of the beach as I so wanted to share that feeling. Oh yes, an idyllic place to re-group – alas so far away from me! Otherwise I’d want to visit every year!!

  6. patgarcia says:

    That is a beautiful place and your pictures show the peacefulness. I know it was relaxing and it gave you time to retreat and recover from stress.
    Happy for you.
    Shalom aleichem,
    Pat

    • Annika Perry says:

      Thank you so much, Pat! It was a wonderfully relaxing and the constant sight and sound of the sea quickly lulled us into a state of serenity. With the beach so empty the sense of calm was only reinforced – a total break and so out of the norm for me. Amazing. At times I felt I was dreaming!

  7. Jacqui Murray says:

    There is something about the sound of water–especially oceans–that is so relaxing. The Atlantic is everything you say it is–greener than my Pacific off of California, but filled with energy.

    • Annika Perry says:

      Jacqui, energy is just the word for the ocean! A powerful force that became part of me, I wasn’t even aware of it to start with. I was going to ask if the Pacific is different but wondered if that was naive – interesting to learn the Atlantic is greener. Do you live close to the coast and get opportunities to renew your strength from visits to the beach? Were / are you moving?

    • Annika Perry says:

      I know…sixteen days is amazing for this kind of break; not meant originally but flying back on Labor Day meant much cheaper tickets so it all worked out. Absolutely bliss. Glad you bring you along on the virtual journey, Pam! 😀

  8. reocochran says:

    I was here, Annika, three short years ago! 🙂 Boy did they pass quickly! I was on New Smyrna pier, where an ex-boyfriend and I fished! There was a band playing at the land’s end, where restroom facilities and light, delicious cooking was prepared.
    We caught several fish which we would throw back in, if under a required size, ones that were large enough to keep, we gave to an Asian older couple who said they served it to their grandchildren.
    There was a white heron standing on the railing and the peachy orange sky glowed on the New Smyrna bridge making the edges look orange.
    We had accommodations with his sister and had spent the early part of the day at Universal Studios.
    I have a few photographs of the beautiful scenery but the memories are “indelible.”
    So sorry about the Hurricane though. What a way to finish off a perfect, idyllic vacation!

    • Annika Perry says:

      Robin, it is a small world indeed! Lovely to hear about your time in New Smyrna Beach. We stayed about six miles south of the main town which is why it is so empty. I am not surprised you remember the heron so well, they are stunning birds and so much part of the landscape. I have some wonderful photographs of them which I will post next; they were almost tame and always so elegant, majestic.

      The hurricane affected us little in the end and it was fascinating to watch the weather move in to its full dramatic mode!

      • reocochran says:

        Oh, so glad you weren’t disturbed by the storm. The peaceful atmosphere shines in your photos so I had to get mine out to remember this special vacation. Last weekend, although Lake Erie shores aren’t as splendid, the water was blue and I dug my toes into the warm sand. My artist brother and I sat side by side, took photos of my grandson playing and seagulls flying. It was a wonderful time and hope I didn’t sound sad since I had a nice break!

    • Annika Perry says:

      Well now you know that we are overawed with the beauty and drama of the beach landscape! I did think of you as I remember you come from here but think you’re back in Germany now? Did you appreciate the views when growing up or was it just part and parcel of life?

      • wanderwolf says:

        Yep, I’m in Germany, but am often enough home with my family.
        I think I took it for granted through high school, but after that and going to college, meeting a lot of people who had NOT grown up in Florida, I realized how lucky I’ve been. Now, when I go back, my heart fills up with love for the natural beauty. The light and the beaches are unique, and it’s an honor to be able to call that home.
        🙂 glad you found as much joy in it as I do!

    • Annika Perry says:

      Thank you, Kathy. 😀 Such a wonderful place it is more a matter of doing it and my feelings justice. Yep, happily returned without too many problems; strangely enough since then been a lot of problems both on one flight to Florida, then breakdown of checking in systems and then runway closed in Gatwick! Just made it in time!

  9. L. T. Garvin, Author says:

    Annika, I enjoyed the beautiful photographs with beautiful descriptions to match. I think I told you before that Florida is one of my favorite places. I think many of us carry the magic of the ocean within ourselves to relive and reflect on the perfection of the sea.

    • Annika Perry says:

      Lana, I can well understand Florida being one of your favourite places – it was really hard to leave and the ocean just kept pulling me back. 😀 Like a primeval force reaching out to me. I like your idea of its magic being within us to relive – a well I will draw on for the rest of my life! Are you going back to Florida soon?

    • Annika Perry says:

      Jo, it was so perfect that we had difficulty shifting ourselves from there and then usually onto the beach for a walk or even bodyboarding! It was worrying about the hurricane but we just got stormy squally weather with a few minutes of blackouts. All the time feeling part of nature.

  10. PeterR says:

    Absolutely stunning, Annika. It must have been an amazing time, to just relax and be happy, with none of the stresses of home. I think I have to get myself to a beach somewhere soon.

    • Annika Perry says:

      Thank you, Peter. It was a wonderful relaxing break and also so different from anything I’ve know for years. The sea is always a draw I think and hope you get a chance to visit one soon.

  11. mommermom says:

    Although my childhood roots are of the Atlantic Ocean, my life had been more centered attend the Pacific. I can’t imagine living too far from the ocean. Beautiful pictures.

    • Annika Perry says:

      Interesting to read you’ve moved from one ocean to the other! I found the Atlantic Ocean very different from the European seas, eg. North Sea, Mediterranean, Baltic. More unruly, active and initially daunting. Soon enough it was hypnotic and I can well imagine that given a chance its draw to live close is powerful. So glad you liked the photos!

  12. delphini510 says:

    Beautiful Annika. Your words paint such a lyrical and serene story. To think this was your reality for over two weeks, you must be calm now.:)
    I love your photos and beaches like these are to dream about and sometimes one will be lucky enough to find them.

    Looking forward to the other two sections – especially the wild life .
    Mirja

    • Annika Perry says:

      Calm is my middle name now! I do hope it lasts and since I’ve been back my thoughts have often strayed to the beach, the holiday. It was an idyllic location, dreamlike and I feel so lucky to have visited – even overcoming (just) my fear of flying 4,000 + miles! The next post I think will be a hit – after all who can resist cute little animals!

  13. Sunshine Jansen says:

    I haven’t been back to Florida in many years but you’ve really captured every facet of that coast’s beauty. It truly is a Surrealist landscape in the morning — dreamlike. I do not miss the summer humidity, though, one little bit… 🙂 Where I live, we have tons of “snowbirds” who spend summers up here and winters down there; wish I could afford to do the same!

    • Annika Perry says:

      Thank you so much for your lovely comment. Drafting this post I had written the coast as being surrealistic but thought others might find that too fanciful and changed the word. You are so right though, the morning particularly has that magical Surrealist aura! I love the idea of being like your ‘snowbirds’, migrating back and forth. Oh well…I’ll continue to dream of Florida instead! Hope you have a chance to visit again – in cooler and definitely less humid times.

  14. D. Wallace Peach says:

    Beautiful photos and narrative, Annika. The last photo of the pink cloud is stunning, but they’re all so serene. It sounds like you had a relaxing vacation. Florida is a beautiful state, especially with those beaches and the ocean. I feel peaceful just reading this post!

    • Annika Perry says:

      Ahh…thank you Diana – glad if I can spread some of my serenity back across the ocean! The last photo was one that heralded the real stormy weather, but who can complain with skies like this! It truly was one of the most relaxing holidays I’ve had; we became so drifty with the sound and sight of the ocean so constantly close and decided to savour that sensation!

    • Annika Perry says:

      Elaine, that is so beautifully written ‘float into each other’s thoughts and souls’. I am so touched as you capture us exactly. No pressure at any time to do anything, say anything. Just being together enjoying nature, gently talking now and then, later going out for dinners, shopping. Perfect. Thank you so much for your lovely comment.

  15. Jessica says:

    I’m so glad you’re back to blogging. I’ve missed you and your way of describing the beauty in things. Love your post and can’t wait to read the 3 to follow. I can just picture your Zombie feet! Glad you enjoyed your trip. Love that Florida sand.

    • Annika Perry says:

      It’s good go be back, Jessica! I tried to put together this post on my iPad whilst still on holiday but it was just too tricky without the computer. So glad you liked it. I know, I meant to take a picture of my zombie feet but kept forgetting! Silly me!

  16. Julie Holmes, author says:

    Love this! Beautiful pictures, and it sounds like you had a wonderful vacation on this side of “the pond”. Reminds me of the time hubby and I went to Hawaii. There’s something about the ocean that’s so soothing. Thank you for sharing!

    • Annika Perry says:

      Thank you, Julie! Oh, I wish it was a pond…the thought of the long flight had me in terror, although in the end it went fine. The sight, sound and scent of the ocean is a real tonic and yes, soothing. By the second week we were so relaxed that all my good intentions of writing, blogging, book reviews went on a walk with me on the beach and never returned! Hawaii – that looks like an amazing place and I bet the holiday still lives strong within you.

  17. Marion says:

    Amazing photos. And your descriptions, I love them. I feel I was there with you. I am sure you and your mother had a great time. Kram till er båda 💖

    • Annika Perry says:

      Hej Marion! 😀 So good to hear from you. Oh, we had a most special wonderful time there and we both came home rejuvenated and happy. So glad the photos carried you both along too. Kram ❤️

  18. Jill Weatherholt says:

    Beautiful shots, Annika! I too rode out Hermine, but in South Carolina. In my blog post tomorrow, I share some of my photos. Sixteen days as the ocean is my kind of vacation. I’m glad you had a nice time!

    • Annika Perry says:

      Jill, I hadn’t realised you were that close (relatively). 😀 Carolina was my mother’s initial dream location but it just didn’t work out with the flights. I hope the hurricane didn’t affect you too much and will look out for your post tomorrow.I know, I’ve been spoilt with holidays this year – but this trip was one of those once in a lifetime holidays for us ‘girls’!

  19. Book Club Mom says:

    Great photographs, Annika! I love pictures of the ocean. I was just visiting the New Jersey shore and, because of the hurricane, the ocean was very rough. So dramatic to look at. Whenever I look out at the Atlantic, I think of all the ships and explorers who came east hundreds of years ago from Europe and Great Britain – how brave to take that risk!

    • Annika Perry says:

      Thank you so much! Don’t you find it’s actually more satisfying to take photos of the ocean in the midst of stormy weather – the sense of drama and impending doom! Oh, I did think of those Viking explorers – they didn’t even know what they would find. Such a strong and unstoppable love of life and exploration. Their bravery made me slightly braver as I tried (and failed) to overcome my fear of flying home again!

    • Annika Perry says:

      Thank you so much, JC. I must admit the balcony seemed magnetised at times as the view often seemed too beautiful to leave and we spent many hours eating, reading and relaxing there.

  20. Bernadette says:

    Your post will make me look at the Florida coast with fresh eyes. There is something about being so close to the ocean that is magnetizing. I know when I am that close I can’t wait to run out and walk along the edge of the water. In New Jersey our coast is made up of barrier islands. Your approach the island via a bridge over the bay and the first thing that hits your senses is the smell… It is a wonderful thing.

    • Annika Perry says:

      Bernadette, I’m just the same when close to the ocean! Such a simple pleasure and freedom; even on cold days on the beach in Scotland I’d go paddling in the freezing water! I love your description of approaching the New Jersey coast and can just imagine the sense of anticipation.

  21. r_prab says:

    Wow! What a serene description! And how beautiful this location is! I sometimes listen to the sound of sea waves on youtube when I want to gain peace of mind. I am amazaed with this location, a balcony so close to the sea! At night when all will be quiet, the waves will be echoing such a pleasant lullaby. 🙂

    • Annika Perry says:

      Thank you so much and I am happy that my description conveyed the serenity of the beach – I was aiming for that! Interesting that you mention the waves echoing like a pleasant lullaby; my mother said exactly the same and if the mattresses hadn’t been so heavy she would have moved one to the balcony and slept there! The location was sublime – only a few metres from an empty unspoilt beach – not many places left like that I imagine. Just hope it stays so. Oh, I like the idea of listening to sea waves on youtube and might try that myself as I’m REALLY missing the ocean and cascade of waves.

    • Annika Perry says:

      Thank you! It was an amazing holiday and even after just two weeks next to the ocean I miss it so much already; can’t imagine what it would be like to move away after growing up near the coast.

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