Walking north on the bike path - the part where pedestrians are allowed - I stay to the margins so the bikes can go past.
I walk past the private houses and the parking lots and the cafe and the community house and the bike and roller-blade rental stands, and I always keep an ear out for the insect whiz and whirr of a bicycle behind me. They are fast and intimidating and if you need a moment of stillness you step off the concrete to the sand.
But then I see her.
A figure bobbing in silhouette in the bright noonday sun. Hard to see - is she with the couple of joggers? No, they outpaced her, drew away and left her behind on the path.
As I draw closer I can see and hear her. She channels the music that drives her. She's wearing cargo shorts and a tank top, running sneakers. She's tanned brown and textured like a worn leather purse. She's ageless - she could be my age or in her '90s. She could be homeless or the owner of a beachfront mansion - it's impossible to guess. Her knees are as seamed as an elephant's, her shins mahogany and rippled and silvered with scars. Her eyes hide behind dark lenses.
She's dancing to her own music, fed through the white wires and earbuds that dangle into the deep crevasses of her sunburned chest. She bobs, she shimmies. Bops and jives. She raises her face to the noon sun. She crosses from one side of the two-lane bike/pedestrian path to the other. Her toes tap the yellow line, then back again. She violates the protocol of lanes and directions. The soles of her shoes scuff the sand against the concrete, and the rhythm as she shuffles amplifies the percussive beat that we can't hear. But she hears - it's in her ears and hummed and murmured from her throat as she dances past.
She's full of joy. It shimmers from her in the noontime sun.
She crosses the lines, goes against the current, cuts in front of you. Now the bike riders watch out for her, you can see them curve and compensate.
She twirls hectically in front of the blue canvas lounge chairs of the private beach club, where the attendants raise and lower umbrellas for the members as they take their ease. She jives in time with the boom box of the homeless guy who camps behind the lee of the dune, just west of the tennis courts. When I pass her, her teeth flash in a broad grin - it's infectious. I smile back and nod at her as we go our separate ways.
Who is she? I'm sure I'll see her again this summer, while I'm here at the beach. Maybe next time I'll say hello.