Beach or mountain? Like the debate over Carolina barbecue, the question forces you to answer where you stand, literally.
This either-or question reminds me of the Wizard of Oz, when Glinda, the witch of the North, asked Dorothy, “Are you a good witch or a bad witch?”
And the munchkins titter because they know middle of the road isn’t a choice.
Choosing sides is part of life. Liberal or conservative, traditional or modern, up or down, left or right. As we become more polarized, we can’t not have an opinion on things…immigration, Planned Parenthood, political candidates. Society doesn’t allow middle of the road.
Our beloved Piedmont, the half-way point, doesn’t count, or at least it’s never asked. If it were, I’d have to answer Piedmont because it’s actually the place we picked. To make a long story short, my husband and I came to Catawba County through a job offer and said we’d try it out. That was 37 years ago.
Growing up on the Midwest prairie, we had never been asked the beach-mountain question because to be frank, both places were too far away to be relevant. Some people we grew up with spent their entire lives not seeing either.
If I had to come down on one side or the other, I’m a beach person. I’ve actually lived briefly on two bodies of water (Tampa Bay and the English Channel) and attending classes on the Atlantic Coast, literally. Ocean breezes trump the mountains every time. Surf and sand have a way of calling me home. It’s a summer place.
For me and others of my ilk, there’s something claustrophobic about winding mountain roads.
I know. You mountaineers have a point rooting for crisp air, breathtaking vistas and daredevil overlooks. You imagine being an eagle soaring over valleys. Some of you actually do it on snow skis. Mountains are more winter and fall places.
The beach, on the other hand, is a spring-summer destination for most of us. Maybe that’s what I am, a warm-weather person—warm weather with a breeze. For me the choice is easy, Send me out on a spit of land with the waves crashing, gulls calling overhead. Send me shelling or hunting for sea glass. I’m not a skier or much of a hiker. I prefer an ocean landscape to a mountain one, a coastal cottage to a mountain cabin. We know who we are.
Ocean people say they like looking out at the edge of the world. Mountain people say they’re looking out over creation, like a bird. Or God.
Statistically there are far more coastal people than mountain people, which could be a source of pride for those who favor higher altitudes. Mountaineers are a rarer lot. Then again, being a beach person means we see things the way most do, which is probably why the beach is usually crowded—unless you visit this time of year. Any time is beach time.