Still, it was official, calendar summer and what people do in official, calendar summer is go to the beach. In other states, you know it's beach season by the many kites in the skies above the sea, or the relentless noise of the rides on the boardwalks or, and this one's pretty subtle, but I am a trained professional writer, paid to notice these things - the crowds of people on the beach. In Texas, you know it's beach season by the jeeploads of college students cruising up and down the shoreline without their shirts. (The men do this, too.) This happens primarily in spring, or, more precisely, spring break, those three weeks in March when the weather approximates summer elsewhere.

I drove our car onto the deserted beach and parked, which is not only legal in Texas but downright weird if you park anywhere else, like, say, on the street. There was not a jeep in sight.

When it comes to beaches, I can't decide whether I'm W.C. Fields or Will Rogers. The genial Rogers famously said he never met a man he didn't like. It is my view that he just never met many men. But taking him at his word, I might say the same thing about beaches.

Each beach has its own personality and each, in its own way, is likable. The white sand beaches with crashing gray waves, the sort you find off the New Jersey coast, are playful beaches, made for boogie-boards and obnoxious children. Pristine Caribbean beaches with shifting colors of royal blue and turquoise and ice green are adult beaches, places for a certain refined enjoyment, sunbathing, handholding, making credit card commercials. There are daredevil beaches with dangerous undertows, such as those in Oregon, where large signs warn swimmers in words and pictures that they may be swept away by the gigantic undertow or knocked flat by a tsunami. (Inviting, huh?) The rocky coast beaches of Maine give rise to poetry and art; bad poetry and bad art, but still …