Just keep swimming!

I love the beach. Always have, always will. Me and the sandy dunes of Florida are like salt and pepper, cheese and crackers, Joanie and Chachi: we just go well together. Now, with the beach comes the salty ocean (DUH) and the creatures that live beneath those oh-so-crystal-clear waters. I made my peace long ago with the fact that there are OTHER things swimming below me, and that I am not the only one enjoying the salty open waters. However, in order to tame the anxiety that comes with the visions of JAWS in my head, I have resorted to picturing the sea like the movie “The Little Mermaid”. Yup, only Flounder and Sebastian reside below the surface, and it’s perfectly normal to break out in song with your fellow crustaceans.


These images, however, do not replace the reality that there are far deadlier creatures lurking below me while I swim (well, who am I kidding…doggie paddle) leisurely around the surf. Case in point: on our last Blanda Family Reunion down on the Florida coast, I was enjoying my turn in the kayak my uncle Steve had brought with him. I paddled far out into the water in order to get a moment of silence from the chatter on the beach. As I sat there pondering deep thoughts on life (well, again, who am I kidding…..I was singing out loud with the Britney Spears song in my head), I relished in the serenity of the open water. Then, I felt it: a sharp thud against my dainty little kayak. And then there was the fin. Oh the fin. Never in my life has there been a time when I’ve been more terrified by the color grey. Not even an all grey, tapered leg pair of overalls. Nope, that would be less frightening. So there I was, enjoying the peace, when my boat was literally rocked by a shark. Since I was so far out, and no one was around, I’m not sure why I merely whispered, “oh shit”. You’d think I would scream my bloody head off! Apparently I get QUIET when I’m scared. So, after whispering some more expletives, and frantically trying to get my paddle in the water without hitting the shark, who yes, was STILL HOVERING, I splashed my way back to shore as quickly as my rubber arms would get me. Now, I’ve swam in the water with sharks (unbeknownst to me, but visible to those safe on the beach). I’ve even chased one before (granted, I was in 3 feet deep water, and the shark was only around 4 feet long itself), and I’ve never been scared. However, being SO close to this shark, and knowing that I was all alone, without help, well, it was nuts. I’m pretty sure when I got back to shore, I wasn’t emptying out just water from the kayak, if you know what I mean……

 So, that entails my closest run-in with a shark. Here’s hoping that next year’s trip only involves jelly fish and guppies, and maybe some crustaceous sing-a-longs…. 🙂

hearts and hugs,



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