He began to notice things like how the sky varies in color, and the way the long shallow waves wrap around the sand bars; their shimmery patterns bright in the sunlight. He also saw how the sand has been shaped by the waves and the tidal currents, and how the incoming tide was right now changing things.
The place seemed to say, "Be who you are!"
Out on the flats, the tiny figures he saw at first were about ten or so young people, fit and tan and with no clothes on at all! They were running, chasing and splashing each other or tossing frisbees. They were clearly delighted by the salt water, the breezy warmth, the sun, and the energy they were sharing. Their occasional yelps were the only sound above constant soft roar of the distant surf.
He took a few deep breaths, and then proceeded to make picture Number 2, The Hook. It took longer than he thought, and the second try seemed to satisfy him. The people were the hardest.
And then he walked out onto the vast sand bars.
As Alan walked along, some of the kids waved to him, and he sheepishly waved back. The afternoon was warming up, and Alan, sweating in his hiking outfit, suddenly felt that he wanted to run into the ocean too (just to cool off!). So then he muttered, Oh, crap, why not, stripped everything off and splashed into the waves.
Then he ran, kicking water up to his armpits, and suddenly realized why these kids were doing this - it felt incredibly good! The sensuality of the sun and the water were part of it, but the idea of having absolutely nothing attached to him, not even a ring on his finger, was somehow extremely liberating! Some of the guys and girls ran past him and around him, splashing water everywhere - and he picked up the game, dodging and splashing among them. Totally winded, he finally had to slow down, and he raised his hand at them to wave a Thank You!
This inspired Alan to camp on the higher dune where he had been sitting, and that is where he pitched his tiny mountain tent.