This Wednesday past, a combination of wind and tides worked a magic wand over the beach here, and as far as the eye could see was nothing but a wide and flat, clean ribbon of beige, almost white sand. The trash buggy that trundles by two or three times a day never had occasion to stop and scoop up so much as a bottle cap.
But tide and wind are fickle, and the scene is quick to change. With the arrival of true autumn weather, the morning tide has shifted such that early morning walks have become impossible, or next to it, unless you have webbed feet or the stamina to trudge through loose unpacked sand for long distances. After lunch has now become the best time for good beach conditions, and I’ve adjusted my walking schedule to fit that hour.
Today I look out toward the beach as I am tying my shoelaces and see what looks to be a long unending smudge of seaweed browning the waterline. Before my feet ever touch sand, a strong salty tang of ocean and fish reaches me, growing stronger the closer I get. I haven’t seen the seaweed this abundant in weeks, and it doesn’t bode well for clean, trash-free walking. Sure enough, within minutes I spot the first gaudy splash of red plastic tangled in the wrack. The seaweed works like a broom to sweep rubbish in to the beach, and when considered, you have to say it is a good thing. Once the plastic is tossed up on land, it’s less risk to the ocean ecology, and easier for a regular patrolling trash collector to find. Certainly not pretty to see on the beach, but much of it will be picked up before washing out to sea again.
Old plastic bottles and waterlogged shoes aside, the ocean and sky today are outstanding, and bubbly tiaras of foam dance on the wave tops under a wide stretch of puffy clouds and cerulean sky. I stop for a few moments to look out and over the seaweed mess to the majesty of two blues above and below, and the twin whites of cloud and foam. I aim the camera but have doubts that any gadget can capture and hold this almost perfect combination of elements.
Something new in the tide these past few days, another deposit of seed pods, possibly from a faraway land. Like the seahearts, these smaller black mangrove (Avicennia germinans) pods have drifted on the currents to wash up on a Florida beach. They are a pretty diversion from the bottle caps and bits of plastic, and lay in olive green scatters around clumps of wet and glistening yellowish brown seaweed. I find a plastic cup that once held Cheerios, and rinsing it clean in the surf, use it to hold a collection of the green pods. By the time I have finished my walk I have what turns out to be a bowlful. Two of them I plant right away in the big white urn of geraniums outside my windows. A friend tells me she tried getting these pods to grow, but had little luck. Black mangrove naturally grows in coastal tidal areas throughout the tropics and subtropics of America and Africa. It grows marginally removed from the shoreline, where it can be reached only by high tides. Not exactly the conditions found in that white urn of geraniums outside my window, but…