Looking west out over the ocean this afternoon, I can sometimes see Castle Rock, point-six nautical miles offshore. Then the fog folds it back into invisibility. We are both fond of this, I think, the cooling fogs, the way fog signals a very hot day someplace else but not here, at least not yet. Overhead, even when we first went out for our walk this morning, the sky shows blue, whisked by thin clouds, but north, south, east, and west over the ocean, the mist makes a pale mask on the landscape.
This morning we picked the plastic remains of (illegal) fireworks—some pieces are quite sharp—and four golf balls, our fourteenth Bic lighter of the season, plastic packaging and trimmings from cord and twine, candy wrapper, broken cutlery, unidentifiable objects lost off boats, broken beach toys. It’s what we usually find. I found glass melted and sharp from a beach fire. (Glass does not burn and neither does plastic.) Just as we turned for home, I found a sand-frosted disk of clear glass.
There are many dead birds. It is the season of juvenile gulls following after a parent, heads ducked in a vain effort to appear small when they are fully grown. Peep, peep, peep! they cry. Sometimes their parent leads them to food and walks away. Sometimes you can almost hear an adult gull sigh with exasperation. Get a life. The sea lion’s skeleton has finally come apart, and we saw a dead otter, which may have fallen victim to the unusual surf.
Yesterday, Gary went out and retrieved four beach chairs that had been caught up by high waves on the day before. The tide had not been especially high that day, but before the people picnicking on the sand south of us had to move, twice, he was already saying there was a danger of sneaker-waves. A true sneaker rages up fast and far beyond where you might expect. “Sneaker” because of that and because it is often silent.
The surf went from a single breaker in the morning to ten foot swells and many rows of breakers almost a half mile out on that day. It was a roaring sea with lots of plankton washing in from the recent heat and upturned colder water. The first sneaker swept up over the onshore sand bar that had been dry and untouched for weeks. A hundred-yard sweep of rushing saltwater. The next waves swept higher, all the way into the rocks bordering the green—the sort of massive sweep we expect in November not in summer. It was not yet even high tide.
This brings me to the chairs. A drunken party of tourists staying in one of the rentals a block east of the beach brought them down onto the sand early last month and then never bothered to return them. Four plastic chairs, two pistachio-green plastic Adirondack chairs with rounded backs and two tan plastic Adirondack chairs with fan backs. We hoped for a long time that someone would retrieve them or steal them, but no one did. Some visitors used the chairs and some pretended they were not there. The owners of the rental house closest to the chairs ignored them.
We certainly didn’t want them.
However, when we we discovered that one of the chairs had been swept a quarter mile south and then up onto the rocks, Gary went out again. He carried each of them into the front yard and hosed off the plankton. We have gathered up broken plastic chairs in the past. One way or another, he decided, we would be carrying these chairs up—either whole and still useful or broken into pieces.
At top, violets we did not plant in our front garden. They are what gardeners call volunteers, like the little spruce growing in the center yard and the salal coming up everywhere. Nobody planted it, it just grew.
When we had our ocean-side deck removed earlier this year, most of what was revealed was bare, empty sand. The naturalized crocosmia (the orange montbrecia) came up immediately and the wild rabbits like to lift up on their hind legs, bite a montbrecia leaf halfway up, and then eat from there to the tip. They nibble dandelions down to the ground. Good bunnies.
Lately other plants have sprouted: lamb’s ears and wild roses and violets. The roses are prickly and I pluck them out with care, but the others are a lovely surprise. So far the rabbits have left the violets and lamb’s ears alone. We like to think they are gifts from the rabbits because we never shoo they out of our yard.