atlantic coast beach

Within sight of downtown Miami, Biscayne National Park in Florida protects a rare combination of aquamarine waters, emerald islands and fish-bejeweled coral reefs. There’s also evidence of 10,000 years of human history, from pirates and shipwrecks to pineapple farmers and presidents. Outdoors enthusiasts can boat, fish, snorkel, camp, watch wildlife or simply enjoy a gorgeous sunrise over the ocean. Photo courtesy of Andrew R. Slaton.

Summer does not last long in the wild West Highlands of Scotland - if indeed it arrives at all - and as July gave way to August there was a distinct and melancholy change in the air, as though autumn were here already. Waves of heavy rain swept in across the Atlantic on strong, cool winds, and when the sun occasionally emerged, in between the showers, the world appeared in the muted, silvery colours typical of the equinox, instead of the strong hues of summer. However, Algy knew that in fact it was only early August, and as he watched the diamonds sparkling on the water and the wet sand, he hoped that there might still be a chance of some warm sunshine before the long Highland winter began in earnest…

The weather had been unpleasantly wintry in the latter part of April: temperatures had dropped to near freezing, bitter northerly gales had brought frequent showers of sleet and snow, and all the creatures of the west Highlands, Algy included, had taken cover and tried to keep warm as best they could.

But as the month drew to a close, the weather began to change, albeit very slowly, and on Wednesday the wind dropped and the world was filled with light. Although it was still very cold, Algy stretched himself out on the sand in front of the sparkling sea, and marvelled at the beautiful colours it could display when it had a mind to… He was surprised to find a substantial scattering of sea shells on this stretch of the beach, where they only rarely appeared, and wondered how so many could have got there so quickly.