I've seen a tern snatch a silver fish out of silver water.
I've seen the bustle of Main Street in the next town up the coast where it seems to be fashionable to sell art and socks, books and journals, soap and scoops of French lavender, coffee, furniture, and antiques all under one chic roof.
I've seen a dog people there call "Care Bear" who trots the streets with a stuffed animal in his mouth, a free spirit seemingly belonging to no one and everyone.
I've seen myself looking at beach beauties with envy.
I've seen people crawling through a hole in the fence by the cordoned off sand dunes and asked if they've ever been "prosecuted under the full extent of the law." No, they said. They just go to look at the great horned owls who nest in the trees. There are five, they said. I went for a look, myself. But I turned back when the third lizard raced across my sandaled feet.
I've seen beautiful historic buildings bearing earthquake bolts in their facades. My friend Ken, who used to be a building inspector, says that even after being seismically retrofitted, the buildings are still only strong enough to withstand a 5.5. I feel that I've been shored up to the same inadequate standard.
I've seen a little boy, five or six, clutching a boogie board like a shield while barreling across dry sand until he is ankle deep in the surf and then running back. The board never touches the water.
"You're walking to the beach today if it kills you," I said aloud to my bowl of yogurt at breakfast. So I did. I broke free from my inner Stepford wife who has no husband but a zillion little chores, and I walked back to my least favorite restaurant for lunch, simply because I can get there by strolling on the sand. I sat at the bar, and I ordered a Caesar's salad and a glass of Chardonnay. Do you know the most popular cocktail that people order at a hotel bar on the beach? Yup. People are so literal. And hopeful, I suppose.
Sex on the Beach
1 1/2 oz vodka
1/2 oz peach schnapps
2 oz cranberry juice
2 oz orange juice
Seems like it should have sand on the rim of the glass, doesn't it? But no one would want it then.
I have a beach ball-sized empty jar. I don't know why I keep moving this thing from place to place, I said to Ken as I put it on my patio. Because someone made it by hand? he said, knowing he was telling me what I already know.
I have a book about Vermeer and his paintings, and this one called Allegory of Faith
made me think of that jar. The text says that the suspended glass globe symbolizes man's capacity to believe in God.
I don't know anything about God, but I want to fill my jar with the shells, rocks, sticks, and plastic toys I find on the sand. Today I picked up a smooth gray rock, a rock with pink flecks, a small piece of driftwood and a blue plastic shovel. Tomorrow, if I can make myself leave the house, I have faith that I'll find more.