First beach walk in 2010

That’s right, folks. Today, I went out to walk on the beach for the first time in 2010. It’s been really cold, and then it’s been wet, and I’ve been lazy (and enamored of my new Wii & its Wii Fit game), and it’s taken all the way to APRIL to make it out to walk barefoot on the beach. Okay, I haven’t walked barefoot much before April in any of the years since I’ve been here, but I’ve been out with shoes on. It’s just been a cold winter.

Spring has arrived in a rush, and while the water is still quite cold, it is definitely spring. So it was time to hit the beach.

The place where I like to walk when I drive over (as opposed to when I walk up with the dog) has been very low in all the years since we moved here. It’s just east of the park where this dolphin statue is. (The picture of the statue was taken before Ike–the wall behind the dolphins is broken, & the soil where the flowers are was washed away.)

By that, I mean that the sand hasn’t reached high on the seawall, the giant pink granite boulders in front of the seawall were exposed, and often awash in water when the tide was in, which meant you had to pick your way through the rocks to get to the next jetty and cross over to a wide, high beach with the boulders all covered up. But today when I arrived and climbed down the stairs, I scarcely recognized it.

The parks people (and maybe the Corps of Engineers too) had brought sand in and raised the beach level, covered up all the boulders and moved the waterline out where it didn’t lap on the bottom of the stairs. So I had to cross about 30 yards of very soft sand to get to the hard, easy-to-walk on part.

Not many seagulls or other birds out this a.m. I don’t know whether I was too early for them, or too late. I did, however, see lots of critters that got washed up on the sand. The saddest were the four dead willets I saw spaced along the length of the beach where I walked, like some sandpiper mama had lost so many children just as they were learning to run and forage along the water. Poor birdies.

I also saw 10 (yes, ten!) clear/white jellyfish washed up on the shore. I’ve been rummaging through the Internet trying to figure out what kind of jellyfish they were–they’re the big (cantaloupe sized) clearish ones that look like abandoned plastic bags from a distance, and don’t have long dangly tentacles. Either that, or all their tentacles had been broken off, but since I also saw a bunch of Portuguese man-o-wars (men-o-war? Is that proper for jellyfish (even though the man-o-war is apparently technically not a jellyfish-something I learned in my rummaging) terminology?), and they all still had their purple/blue tentacles trailing across the sand, I think the big clear jellyfish must not have long tentacles.

I did not know till my research today that the oblong purple/blue/teal jellyfish (see picture) are actually the man-o-wars, and the big clear ones aren’t. I’ve been stung by the clear ones, and it hurt like crazy–but the man-o-war is supposed to be worse. Maybe. I’ve been stung by jellyfish I didn’t see, and it sure hurt, so it might have been a MoW… I think the clear ones might be Sea Nettles–they’re not Cannonball Jellyfish, because they are colorless. I am still researching. Maybe I will ask our neighbor. He’s a marine biologist, I think.

Anyway, while I was walking along the water’s edge, carrying my shoes and counting birds and jellyfish, and noting the long tentacles & such, I also picked up any nice-looking oyster shells I happened upon. My friend @KristenEthridge (as she is known on Twitter) makes jewelry out of oyster shells. I rather like the white and purple shells. The little ones looked a little nicer, because they hadn’t had time to get seacrud on the outsides, so you could still see the purple on their outsides, as well as their insides. (Seacrud is a technical term.)

And because I put the shells in my pocket, I had to rinse the sand off them, which meant I got my feet in the water. It felt really cold when I first walked in, but by the time I left–I think my feet were so cold they didn’t know what was cold and what wasn’t. But it was nice to get my feet in the water, to be out on the water, and find shells and things. It was so incredibly windy–my hair blew all one direction, then all the other when I turned to walk back. There was lots of choppy surf (the surf in the Gulf is never Big here), and lots of irridescent seafoam, and my glasses got all salty. My wet feet got Very Sandy because I had to walk across that soft, fluffy sand (with lots of bitty shells in it, because it’s dredge sand) back to the stairs, and I had to go in the back yard and wash them off before I could go in. The dog kept her distance, in case I decided to wash her. But it was a nice walk. And I’ve had fun looking up jellyfish. And sooner or later, I’ll get together with @KristenEthridge and give her the shells, if she wants them. (I have no idea whether they’re the kind she uses, but I picked them up, so…)

I’ll try to get another blog in here before I leave town, but I’m heading up to Valley Mills, TX to a writing retreat, just me and my friend B, on Thursday. We are going to stay at the usual dude ranch (it is mostly ranch, very little dude), and talk and write. I can’t wait! Hopefully I can solidify how my book needs to end.

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