Monday, July 27, 2009

Morning Sea Walk

(This is an essay I wrote in late Spring)

As I walked out this morning the smell of salty air filled my lungs. The sun was just starting to rise and a heavy mist was still clinging to the houses along the row.

I stepped barefoot on to the finely cut grass lawn in order to make my way to the road. The grass was slippery and cool and I jumped over the crushed oyster shells that bordered the edge of the lawn.

The pavement felt good and solid beneath my feet. I looked up to see the mist dispersing and the sun starting to warm the tops of the houses. The trees were glimmering with dew spatters and the refracted light danced and shot color in all directions.

I could hear the ocean now. The incessant pounding of surf on sand. It was muffled by the houses and the road but I had crossed the street and could just make out the sand dunes ahead.

The sprinklers at the Victorian house on the corner were already on. The hissing caught my attention and I looked to see a garden of English roses and larkspur, hollyhock and lavender. The house was a historic one. A plaque on the front of the lawn explained this. It had been one of the first inns at this beach.

The house had gray wood shingles and white wooden lace. It had a pergola in the back yard with vines growing on it. I was now starting to reach the path of sand that would lead me past the house and over the hill to the sea.

The sand was damp between my toes and I hurled my half asleep body up the hill. At the top of the hill the ocean and horizon stretched out before me as though no one but me had ever seen it. The waves were lazy this morning and curling and jumping and sliding across the sand and retreating again.

The sky was a pale robin’s egg blue. The sun had not risen far enough in the sky to illuminate the dark sea. Further out the water looked moody and was the color of ash. I turned to the left and walked away from the town and the houses. A lone jogger ran past with a nod.

As I walked the sun began to spread light across the waves making the caps look white and I saw dolphin fins, gray and sliding through the water without a sound. I heard the seagulls calling overhead. "The dolphins must be fishing" I thought. I saw them begin to circle and leap and knew that they had come upon a school of fish and I heard the seagulls crying from above, waiting for some bits of torn flesh to rise to surface.

Further along the beach, I saw a dead sea turtle. It was a massive thing. It must have weighed over a hundred pounds. It was bloated and bobbing like a cork in the shallow part of the water. I stood and watched for a long time. The sea moved its body in such a way that I thought it was alive. I wanted to try and pull it in but was afraid to touch it. It finally washed up on shore and I saw that its eyes were gone and that it had been dead for a long time.

I continued up the beach, the sand now glittering like diamonds from the sun. I put on my sunglasses and pulled my hat down. I saw a man walking a black dog. He stopped and threw an object into the water. A tennis ball perhaps. The dog dutifully dove into the waves always keeping his head above the water and he slowly but determinedly made his way past the waves and into deeper water. He retrieved the item and I saw him swim back in and shake and drop the object.

I walked on and now the sun was squarely in the center of the sky. I saw people setting up camp with chairs and coolers and umbrellas. Children were starting to get busy with the work of building sandcastles. I could spot the shell collectors because they walked with their heads down.

I finally reached the marker. An old watch tower that was used during World War II. It was really just a turret with stairs and a small room at the top. The glass was long gone and the stone was weathered and forgotten. I touched the hard rock and turned back.

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