As a child, the beach was synonymous with tar on my feet

oil pelican

An oiled brown pelican near Grand Isle, Louisiana.

Photo by Flickr user Petrarchan47, Creative Commons.

I’ve always LOVED water. My parents used to joke that I was part fish. When I was young, we’d go to the beach every single weekend, scouring the sand for shells, hermit crabs, and all sorts of fun things. I’d wade into the ocean and look for seaweed clumps and shake them out, seeking the tiny fish and crabs hidden inside, and then watch them in a bucket of seawater all day. I loved the beach.

The only downside to the beach, when I was little, was from an oil spill.

I don’t recall the details because I was just way too young, but there was an oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, not too far away. As a result, my childhood beach outings didn’t just include the tenderizer and things you bring in case of a jellyfish sting, but it also included baby oil to get rid of all the black tar that you’d inevitably get on the bottoms of your feet, on your legs, and on your hands.

stephanie dube waterfall

Me trying to pose all pretty under a pool waterfall and failing.

As a child, the beach was synonymous with tar on my feet. It wasn’t until I was older and all that old tar finally cleared out that I realized this wasn’t a beach’s natural state. I’m not sure what oil spill did all that damage, but I’m wondering if it was the Ixtoc I oil spill.

Despite that, we still enjoyed our trips to the beaches and I’m still a beach girl at heart. When I was in college, I used to escape to the beach when I needed to decompress and just breathe. The roaring ocean provided a great means for getting things back into perspective.

Even though I don’t live near the coast now, I still love the water. My favorite form of exercise is swimming. When I dive into a pool and swim laps, it’s not just helping my physical health but it helps my mental health too. The feel of the water is just so refreshing and exhilarating.

Looking back, it’s hard to believe that tar was just a way of life for awhile on Texas beaches. I’m glad those problems are long gone. And I really hope nothing that serious visits our Gulf beaches again any time soon. Maybe with the advent of new energy sources and technological advances, we won’t have to depend on oil for much longer.