Saturday, September 13, 2014

A day at the beach.

Though we still have another week of summer, today seemed the first day of autumn. The temperature barely touched 60, the sky was a forbidding grey with nasty cumulus rolling by at speed, and though the trees were as yet green, leaves blew along the asphalt with abandon.

Nevertheless, at just before seven, we piled into the Simca and headed up to a rocky horseshoe of beach, where no one but lonely Puerto Rican fishermen go to lose their weekly supply of tackle. We've been heading up the coast for seven months now, I've seen in that time precisely one fish caught, a small stripper that in a kinder world would have been thrown back to grow.

Whiskey and I stood on the alluvial, struggling over the rocks until we found a sandy bottom that didn't hurt our paws. The water was warmer than the air, but turbid. It was low tide and the mud, clay and sand was roiled. I could barely see my feet, though I was in no deeper than just above my knees.

The water was rough, rough for the Sound anyway. There must have been a storm last night. I tossed Whiskey's fluorescent float out into the rip. It traveled quickly out to deeper water, too fast for Whiskey to catch and too far for me to mark it with a thrown stone so she could locate and fetch it. Were my rotator cuff not torn, I could have thrown a rock out to it, overhand, but I'm not throwing overhand these days. My arm, once my source of pride and strength, is crippled.

We lost the float in the turbulent sea. I asked some passing paddleboarders who were enjoying the surf to return it if they happened upon it. But it's a little toy in a big sea and it's gone.

Fortunately my ever-level-headed wife had another float, a white pebbled affair in the knapsack she carries with Whiskey's accouterments. She handed it to me and Whiskey and I played fetch for nearly two hours.

We ended when this one too got swept out in a rip. Whiskey returned to shore empty-mouthed. I spent a good ten minutes reassuring her that she did not let me down. Any dog could lose two floats in one day. Even the great DiMaggio struck out with the bases loaded. Speaking of DiMaggio, I consoled Whiskey with a bit of Hemingway. "I would like to take the great DiMaggio fishing," the old man said in the great book. "They say his father was a fisherman. Maybe he was as poor as we are and would understand."

Whiskey looked at me like I was daft, and maybe I am. But she does seem to understand, mostly because she has the wisdom of the universe in her deep brown eyes.

We walked, as we always do, past Playland Amusement Park to the boardwalk that runs for about three-quarters of a mile along Rye beach. The park is empty now and there is perhaps nothing sadder and emptier than an amusement park on the cusp of winter. You can almost hear the ghostly shards of laughing kids reverberate off the wooden superstructure of the old, landmark roller coaster. It's a sad laugh like they just dropped their ice cream.

Around 10:30, we got into the Simca. She started right up, as reliable as a golden retriever. We clattered down the New England Thruway and made it home in just over 30 minutes.

It was a good day.

Though we lost two floats.

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