Thursday, January 7, 2010

Cold days, blue skies and a monument

If you visit the northern-most beachside point at Guana Tolomato Marine Esatuarine Reserve, walk across A1A. You'll find yourself on a boardwalk-like structure, complete with a tower. Climb up. It's worth it. To the east you have a wonderful view of the broad ocean (insert North Atlantic Right Whale here, if you're lucky enough to see one). To the west you can see the fresh and brackish waters cuurving back and forth among the grasses; maybe you'll even see a sunset. From any perspective, it really is an amazing view. When you come down from the tower turn to the north. There will be half- or three-quarters of a mile of truly pristine white beach with houses off in the distance. If you keep walking, you'll see the flagpoles in this picture. Walk all the way up. There's more.

As our boys grew up and started to spend more weekend time in their own pursuits, Rodney and I remembered how we'd spent time in the years before those boys arrived. We rediscovered walking on the beach. We were astonished to find two completely obsessive-compulsive Fossil Hunters lurking unsuspected in our two hearts -- but that, my dears, is a story for another day. We realized that our dogs believe the beach to be a celestial realm, and that we...umm, more or less agreed with them. So we started to walk. And we noticed some of the same people doing the same thing, week in and out.

At first we simply greeted them in the time-honored Southern way appropriate for distant acquaintances, calling, "How're y'all?", or "Pretty day for it, huh?", and waving. We knew them as "Hippie Segway Guy" and "Black Bathing Suit Woman", and "Black Bathing Suit Woman's Boyfriend", and "The Couple Who Only Look for Shark Teeth". And then one day Black Bathing Suit Woman's Boyfriend changed things. We arrived in the parking lot one evening as they were leaving, and as they got into their car we rummaged around, looking for sunscreen and putting on our ugly old hats. "Oh, it's YOU," he yelled suddenly, "We didn't know you without your hats!" The had noticed us, too. (They probably had appalling names for us, too: "Fat Hat Lady" and "Metal Detector Man"? Metal Man and Beach Bag Lady? We hardly dared to think.) The very first person we noticed was a determined blonde woman who could often be seen dragging driftwood (where?) and diligently picking up trash was also, with equal dedication, creating something we've since come to think of as organic art. Wait. It's not revolting, I promise.

Driftwood Lady lef us to something we hadn't expected. It was a monument of sorts, the foundation of which seemed to be bordered by driftwood (but really BIG driftwood, as in creosoted 4x4s) and had been carefully defined by an arrangement of shells spelling out "U.S.A.". There was a piece of plexiglas, under which was a remembrance of someone's brother. Around this had been placed various collections of shells, fossils and the detritus of the ocean, re-purposed to expand this living, evolving sculpture.



  1. Thanks to Dylan for serving as a copy editor, and my apologies for typos he wasn't able to catch before I published. The photos are in opposite order to what I intended, but you get the idea.

  2. Honey, it all looks fine to me.
    I love beach art. No one expects it to stay for long and thus, it is done only for the joy of doing it.

  3. True, and this one seems to have an army of people we almost but don't quite know, who keep helping it grow in their own ways...more to come on this one. I adore your comments, you know.


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