Beach Pics & Familiar Stranger, Chuck
I’m often on the beach when the sun decides to call it quits for another day. During that time, you see sunset gazers, shell collectors, and walkers trying to squeeze that last bit of activity for the day. Walkers can be divided into two camps: rooks and residents. If someone is just down here in Clearwater Beach for 8 days, I’ll probably not recognize them. When you consider the residents, there are some people you’ve seen and sometimes wave to. It’s a fairly chill atmosphere so a quick nod or wave is as common as it is uncommon.
One individual I wanted to focus on from beach walks is an older man we’ll call Chuck. He appears to walk the beach every sunset, seeing him more than a dozen times this past winter season. I’ve smiled at first and his stoic face appears to be focused on taking that next perfect step. The man is quite fit, for any age actually, his stamina is not lacking and his intensity and seriousness about his early evening ritual leads me to believe it's not a hobby. Another way to identify Chuck is his stature, a little below average in height with white hair and black rubber devices on both knees. In fact, I believe the bands were placed directly below the knee cap.
I wanted to stop him one day and ask him what’s the purpose of those bands, but I just remained silent. I have no idea he lives, my only conjecture is a good mile or so opposite the breakwaters. So it appears his first leg of the walk is to head north. Can’t say he’s lonely but while he appears on the beach, he’s alone.
I still nod from time to time but it appears Chuck and I have become Familiar Strangers (FSs). I recognize him and I hope he recognizes me. We had the opportunity to become familiar during our initial interactions but that didn't materialize, so now, we're estranged. I just find it unsettling that Chuck and I appear to recognize each other, while walking on a fairly quiet and uncrowded beach, and yet not a nod and a wave could frequently occur? Who knows? Maybe at some point, we can take the ‘stranger’ out of the equation?
Final Chapter on Beach Chatter.