The beach can be the defining element of our lives |

The beach can be the defining element of our lives

Jennifer Harper

Everyone has their role at the beach, and I think that who you are at the beach is very often who you are in life. Kind of like you are what you eat.Some people slather themselves with SPF 4 sunscreen (Or heaven forbid, baby oil. Come on people; this isn’t 1970.), lay back and let the sun turn them the golden brown of a Thanksgiving turkey. These are quite often the folks who equate bronzeness with being healthy and beautiful, the people who ignore the mounds and mounds of research against sunbathing in favor of their own logic. Or maybe they’re just misinformed.Some people collect shells. Big ones, small ones, purple and pink ones, ones with small animals still living inside (oops!). These people appreciate nature’s intricate beauty and want to savor a small piece for themselves. Or perhaps they just like shells. (I don’t want to make any gross assumptions.)

Myself, I am a big-picture kind of girl. I take in the whole scene. The seagulls, the blue sky, the white-crested waves, the soft, gritty sand under my feet.I take mental photographs of the whole picture, so I can conjure them up when I need a happy thought. Big-picture folks like me can sometimes miss the tiny details like the jellyfish they’re about to step on. And some people, like my husband, search for sharks’ teeth and find a lot of them. These are the observant, detail-oriented people.Brian and I recently (and by recently, I mean 2 a.m. Tuesday morning – yaaawn) returned from a quick trip to Amelia Island, Fla., for a friend’s wedding. Thankfully, amidst all the wedding hoopla, we got to swing by the sandy shores and take in the Atlantic Ocean for a bit.

As soon as we started on our barefoot jaunt down the beach, Brian knelt down to scoop up a small, sharp, black shark’s tooth from the wave tumbling back out to the ocean.I’ve tried my best every time we venture to this beach to find one of the pointy little treasures but never have any luck. I’ve always admired his ability to take in the smallest of details in that way.This time, I even tried to pretend for a few minutes that I wasn’t searching for the teeth, thinking that I would find one when I wasn’t looking. Perhaps that sentiment is true of love and of sharks’ teeth – that you find it when you’re not looking. Of course, it didn’t apply to me though, because I was still looking and only pretending not to be.

Thus another trip to the beach and no sharks’ teeth for me.So is it better to not be able to see the forest for the trees or vice versa?Brian left the beach with six sharks’ teeth; I left with three or four great mental pictures of sand, water and sky. I may never know which is better for the wear. One thing’s for sure though, there’s an ocean full of sharks out there that need a good dentist.Arts and entertainment editor Jennifer Harper writes a Wednesday column.She can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 248, or

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