Along the Way

Birthday Fate

Matthew, an Australian visiting family on holiday in St. Pete Beach, reels in a small pinfish that he caught while fishing at the Michael Horan Park overlooking the Corey Causeway on New Year’s Day, 2024.

Matthew, an Australian visiting family on holiday in St. Pete Beach, reels in a small pinfish that he caught while fishing at the Michael Horan Park overlooking the Corey Causeway on New Year’s Day, 2024.

My annual birthday tradition is to set out on New Year’s Eve with my son, Zack, to create a photo to commemorate my birthday. Typically, it’s a random drive to capture a compelling scenic to mark my birthday. This year (2023), December 31 occurred on Sunday, and it was a time crunch, so we decided to make this customary photo trek on the first day of 2024.

We crawled the length of St. Pete Beach with one camera and one lens in hand traversing areas where I lived most of my life. There is a lot of beauty throughout this former laid-back beach town turned tourist haven, but on this day, nothing piqued my vision for my day-late birthday photo.

We were about to head toward downtown St. Petersburg, when we stopped at Michael J. Horan Park, a small scenic park along the water adjacent to the city’s recreation building. Horan was a long-time commissioner and Mayor of St. Pete Beach.

There we discovered Matthew, a lone fisherman catching and releasing nothing more than small pinfish. I could have told him that’s about all he would hook in the waters behind the Corey Causeway, but I didn’t want to spoil his fun.

“Are you catching anything,” I asked the friendly fisherman. “Not much, just these little ones,” as he showed me a small bait-eater he was getting ready to return to the bay.

Matthew prepares to return a small pinfish that he caught.

Matthew prepares to return a small pinfish that he caught.

As we talked, I discovered Matthew is an accountant from Melbourne, Australia. He was in the area visiting his in-laws for the holidays with his American wife and two children, ages three- and six-years-old. I explained the nature of my photo outing and asked if I could make photos of him while he fished. Matthew was agreeable and gave me his email address so I could pass along a couple of my images.

We chatted about summertime Christmas on warm summer days down under, our careers and 24-hour flights between the two countries with two youngsters in tow.

While I technically missed my birthday photo outing, I also learned I was making photos of a friendly Australian on his birthday. That’s memorable.

Happy Birthday Matthew!

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