<-- More Absolutely Florida

I live about 10 blocks from the ocean off Miami Beach, and most summer mornings I go for a quick swim, since, after all, it's so close and superbly user-friendly. It is here that I do my best thinking.

As I cross the little wooden footbridge that connects the regular world to the edge of a whole different reality (the original, primeval one) - I'm always eager to see what character the sea has taken on. The water is different every day. Cool with rainwater, warm as tea, rough, clear, still, agitated, cloudy, quiet, with bits of seagrass, lots of seaweed, jellyfish or schools of yellowtail, sergeant majors or a lone barracuda, as clear as glass, high tide, low tide or any combination - I often wonder if it's a metaphor for how the day will turn out to be.

Unlike the sea, I'm very predictable. I find the spot on the beach exactly between two buoys, so I can swim a triangle. After discreetly undoing the inevitable bathing suit wedgy, I undo the towel wrapped around my waist, take off the long shirt with a pocket for my keys and sunglasses, slip on my face-mask and snorkel, and head for the first buoy on the left. It's the marker that lets boats know how far they're allowed to go - I don't know the distance, but it takes 5 minutes to swim there.

After the initial jumping in and getting wet, my meditation begins. As I see watch my hands in front of me ply through the brilliantly clear water, my breathing through the snorkel reminds me of how lucky I am to be here, how this has got to be the nicest part of America's ocean. I have to check above water to make sure I'm really headed for the marker, a few degrees off could mean a lot of extra swimming. As I approach my first milestone, the chain that holds the buoy appears all of a sudden through the mystic blueness. Very Neptunian.

I can't resist touching the buoy before turning to the right for the next leg (fin) of my journey. By now I'm usually pondering the day ahead, the week, life. Making it to the buoy gets tied in with meeting my objectives for the day. As I've been involved with getting this magazine off the ground, and all of its manifestations, twists and turns, strange currents and waves, it often feels like I'm swimming through an ocean of matter to reach my goal.

But a word of caution here. One morning as I turned at the bouey, I accidentally kicked it as it lay behind behind me. Encrusted with razor sharp barnacles and full of bacteria, it put a crimp in my swim (not to mention my foot) for weeks. I found a metaphor here, too: as a warning not to be SO focused on a goal that I become sloppy and forget the dangers lurking out there.

Sometimes I have to remind myself to appreciate the sensuality of the water. On days when the water is calm as a swimming pool, with the lovely sandy bottom stretching out for miles under the full spectrum of every shade of green and blue, I catch a glimpse of the vastness of just that one tiny part of the world. As I reach the second buoy and turn to head back to civilization, I'm given a boost by the tide behind me. (Isn't that always the way: once you've made it, THEN you get help!)

I think about the importance of location, and what a special one Miami Beach is. This very same ocean where I come from (New England) and many other places is unswimmable, unfriendly and unhealthy. This is what certainly makes Florida so uniquely beautiful, the sea is so warm and accessible (just look out the window), the beach is soft and sandy, and even in the pouring rain, it can be sunny - with a rainbow, or sometimes two.

Sometimes we have to expect the unexpected. Today the water was rough, with a strange tide cutting across that made me lose my bearings. As I thought I was heading to one buoy, I actually swam to the other one. My usual swim concludes with a dive for a piece of shell I use to decorate my garden with, but no dice today. Too rough and stirred up. So instead I brought home this story, along with an invitation for you to also immerse yourself in the gorgeous, sensual Florida ocean.