A walk to remember

By Nina Keenam

I found some notes relating to a sandy bayside walk with my husband tucked among yellowing newspaper clippings. I have done that through the years –scratched out just enough words and phrases to help me recapture times I want to remember.

That day, we strolled on dry, white sand beside a lake to the wet, gray shore of a bay where the tide was out. A silvery fish leaped high from the lake in the noon day sun, breaking the water to form a perfect circle and dissolving into a ripple. Nearby a wild duck dived, and then reappeared yards away from its numerous companions. Gliding effortlessly in a perfect formation, they paid it no heed.

When we reached the bay, a group of white birds stood in less than an inch of the water. Behind them, two small boats tied to a pole, shifted ever so slightly, propelled by a slight breeze. In the backdrop of this peaceful scene was an industrial seaport with several large ships silhouetted against the sky.

As always in those days, I took along my camera. We were approaching a fallen tree on the sand, bleached by salt air and sun. There, I thought, was a perfect setting for a photograph. Moving closer, my delight turned to disgust. Heavy lettering painted by some unthinking passerby spoiled the scene. I moved to the other side, still hoping for a pleasant shot. I found more equally blaring writing.

Along the wet part of the shoreline, we came upon what wind and waves had not swept away: tires covered with barnacles, beverage cans, a tennis shoe sole, a rotting glove, a decaying jawbone of a sea creature, pieces of wood, and tree trunks. Signs of a long past hurricane left broken pieces of a retaining wall and the gnarled network of magnolia tree roots, all exposed by shifting sands.

Leaving the seashore, we passed a dock where deep sea fishing boats were anchored. We stopped to smell some old-fashioned roses in front of a restaurant closed for the winter. We wandered into a Greek bakery to buy rich, gooey pastry to enjoy on our way home. Near the surface of water behind another closed restaurant, we noticed crabs slowly crawling along the ocean floor and two jellyfish floating close to the surface.

A bird with a tremendous wing span wailed out in the bay, took off and flew close, disturbing dozens of birds standing on a motel beach. Tiny three-cornered slashes etched in the sand revealed this was a favorite place for the birds. They circled and returned.

An unfamiliar tree with white bark and fuzzy balls hanging from almost bare limbs in a school yard attracted our attention. We plucked a couple of the few leaves left to take with us to identify the tree.

My notes had revealed a leisurely walk during a winter vacation, a time to reminisce about in the days ahead when deadlines closed in and our pace was too hurried.

Columnist Nina Keenam may be reached at ninak@andycable.com.