I’m hot but not uncomfortable, saved from the intensity of the sun by the occasional gusty breeze and the air that’s being conditioned by the crashing surf.
If you are lucky or early, it’s possible to put your blanket down just above the high tide line. Close enough to the surf to benefit from cool ocean spray, yet far enough not to be forced to retreat up the beach if you catch a rising tide.
The sun feels heavy on your eyelids as you push your sunglasses up into your hair and lie back into the blanket. Squirming a bit allows you to conform the sand into the perfect cradle.
Somewhere up wind, someone moves and sand, carried on the breeze peppers your skin. Involuntarily you close your eyes tight, squinting against the odds. Along with the sand in the breeze comes the sounds of a distant ballgame on a radio and other radios add to the low chorus with music. The sounds of chattering kids playing, whooping in the surf, the smell of coconut oil and the salt air effervescence fills your nostrils. A deep breath, an exhale, and you drift back into a semi-conscious state, enveloped within the surround sound of summer.
Awake but asleep, suspended, hanging in the luxury of a perfect beach day it feels like another world. Distant, then near, the sound of a single engine aircraft lumbering at low speed stirs you to awareness. As it approaches you don your sunglasses, lean up on your elbows and watch in fascination as it drags a banner through the air a few hundred feet above and just offshore. Flying for miles along the beach, the banner promoting a radio station or beach club, brand or event, is seen by countless thousands of people, just there, just for you, the community of beach goers. An anticipated and perhaps welcomed part of the day, the aircraft with its banner, gives a wink and a nod to the pleasure of hang time. A summer ritual along the shore, popping and waving as it flies.
Back in the pre internet days, our attentions were not as divided as they are today. Now those flying banners are competing with the banners of the internet. Media has always been vying for our attention, at all times, in almost all locations, oblivious to our surroundings, our moods, our desires. On days like this, I’ll take the flying banner.
Is it an age-old media stunt? Sure is, but I don’t mind the novel interruption. When I sit up and open my eyes, I not only see the promotion, I also appreciate the sea and the sand and the sky. As the plane sails off into the distance, I notice the little shore birds chasing through the foam and I feel blessed.
Context is key.