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In the sweltering humid months of July and August I get an almost sinful delight when my iTunes playlist unexpectedly plays a Christmas carol. How does “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” sound anything like “Kyrie” by Mr. Mister? Well if Apple says so, it must be true.

On Thanksgiving the holiday season blissfully grabs me and doesn’t let me out of its grasp until the day after New Year’s. On January 2nd the holiday season drops me. It’s over just when things are starting to get good.

Sometimes when the holiday season has me in its lovely clutches I wonder what it would be like to go to the beach during the off season. There’s something about walking on the beach in a coat and a scarf that intrigues me. Can you imagine getting sand in your winter boots? Or getting salt spray on your scarf? For a southern landlubber like me, a wintry ocean is pretty exotic.

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Every summer I take photographs of the sand and surf in the Outer Banks. I took the previous photographs on an early morning run. The sight of the sun rising before the day grew hot enough to melt the clouds intrigued me. I took the above photo just as a summer thunderstorm rolled in. Huge raindrops began to fall and I felt one with the ocean.

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This is the beach as I remember it best: calm, inviting, and blue. As the holiday season approaches, I’m imagining snow falling on the shore, a cool embrace of white sparkling on the mirrored surface of a winter sea. IMG_1126

Whenever I find myself lucky enough to be at the beach, I make at least one visit to the Duck’s Cottage bookstore and coffee shop in Duck, North Carolina.

The independent bookstore is open year-round and has an amazing supply of a wide variety of books. They have the usual bestsellers in stock, but they also sell books by local authors and literature that you wouldn’t necessarily see on the front table at Barnes and Noble.

Every summer I pick out a book to read, and often times it is a book recommended by the staff, a book I might never have known to read otherwise. In 2011 I read The Women by T.C. Boyle. In 2012 it was The Sea, The Sea by Iris Murdoch. In 2013 it was a book on the History of the Outer Banks.

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This winter, I’m considering a weekend trip to the beach I love. A chance to sip some coffee, read an invigorating book, and shake sand out of my boots.

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