Saturday, October 4, 2008

questionable conservation

Yesterday I decided on the spur of the moment to include a trip to the beach with our errand- running for the day.

We started off by stopping off at a friend's house to pick up some amount of garbage that for various reasons they have been unable to take to the transfer station. As we had a very small load of our own, I offerred to take their stockpile for them.

I loaded 8 trash bags into the back of the wagon and we started off. Within minutes we were all gagging. The odor released from trash bags containing a summer's worth of dirty disposable diapers is indescribable. I suppose it didn't help that I had chucked them off a second floor deck to save the trips up and down the steps-apparently I had really shook up the contents.

Willow reminded me that I had recently purchased some car fresheners-lavendar scented trees whose scent had previously been rather overwhelming. I ripped open the packages and Willow and I each claimed one for our section of the car; the Firebird opted to roll down his window, pinch his nose, and keep his face inside his sweatshirt.

Peko huddled under some extra coats between the two of them.

We were much relieved to get those stinking trash bags out of the car when we finally reached the transfer station!!!! Then we stuck the air fresheners back into their cellophane. Although they were preferable to the trash odor, on their own they too were more than we cared to endure.

We headed down the penisula to the ocean. I opted to head for the locals spot-a small beach that we call "Baby Beach", because it is so calm and shallow. The only drawback is that at high tide, the beach disappears and the water comes up to the retaining wall of jumbled granite along the causeway. Of course it was high tide when we arrived.

From that point there is a little known back path of about 50 yards that brings you out on the far end of the larger beach. Otherwise you have to drive way around, and in the off season, park on the road outside the gate and hike in quite a distance. A very few poor or cheap folk occasionally use the back way in to avoid the small-one or two dollar gate fee during the season.

One has to be desparate to dodge the fee using that route, as the parking there is minimal at best-possibly four vehicles-and once on the larger beach you have to walk quite a distance for the restroom and snack bar.

The path, and I do mean path, as in this case it is perhaps 8 inches wide of worn trail, starts between some prickly spruce, and then down a short incline along the marsh. Then there is a bit of a wet spot where in years past someone had strategically placed chunks of ancient concrete for stepping stones. Then the path skirts right behind a building that is part of an estate, and emerges through some more spruce and sand dunes onto the beach.

No one has ever wandered off this foot path into the marsh. IN fact, the marsh used to be part of an overboard discharge for the park sewage, so there was additional reason not to wander off the path.

The inlet and outlet of the marsh to the smaller beach has mostly been blocked by the aforementioned granite and causeway-a culvert runs under the road to release the marsh overflow.

Thankfully, several years ago, the park put an actual septic in, which helped the smaller beach considerably, as it is the outlet for the marsh fluid, and used to be rather ripe at low tide. (not as bad as the trash bags with ancient dirty diapers, but nevertheless)

As far as the property the path skirts; the path is on park property, but adjacent to an estate as mentioned previously. The estate changed hands several years ago, and the folks are jerks. I don't know them personally, but there was quite a battle about the waterfrontage. There is ledge on that end of the larger beach, and at low tide it is well exposed and full of tidal pools which a dozen or so beachgoers might explore on a given summer day.

The footing is treacherous at low tide-full of barnacles and slippery rockweed-so one has to be adventerous and fit to say the least. Usually parents with children who want to check out what lives in a tidal pool. This spot became a battleground between the town and the new owners. The new owners wanted to install a ten foot chainlink fence straight down over the rock to the low tide line, to prevent the public from passing over the park rock onto their side of the rock.

The town fought it, winning by claiming the fence would be a boat navigation hazard at high tide, but a compromise was reached by allowing the estate to put twenty foot high galvanized fence rods into the rock at twenty-foot intervals with signs stating private property. They were permitted the chainlink up to the high tide line.

Now that I have filled you in on the background, I will continue with the story. Once we had parked at Baby beach, piled out of the car with our gear, and realized the state of the tide, I decided to take the back path onto the big beach. Well, we headed for the path and placed in clear view were specially made metal signs and posts stating, "marsh restoration-no access" or something along the lines.

Ok, I am a bad girl. We disregarded the signs and took the path. Now, my regular reader will now that I am rather rabid about the protectiion of wild spaces. But I have known this path for thirty years, and it has not deviated an inch in that time,or in any way caused erosion or any harm to the environment.

The cost of the signs far exceeded the loss of any income from annual gate fees-I began to suspect the estate owners had made another stink.

Once we passed the prickly spruce, hopped across the stepping stones, skirted the estate building, and rounded the corner up to the dune, there was another suprise. A twelve foot high pile of beach sand was piled at the end of the path. That's right, in the name of marsh restoration, the town had scraped the seaweed and beach sand off the beach-at least four large dumptrucks worth, and dumped it at the end of the path. Now that's beach conservation! :P

Not deterred, we clambered over.

We were the only ones on the beach. The tide was way up, and the surf was large for that area. The wind was blowing fiercely off the water. Willow immediately started looking for a place for a sandcastle-I walked off with Peko beachcombing, and the Firebird started playing tag with the surf.

Peko and I came back and joined in the game. We were nearly falling over each other as the waves surged in. As is usually the case, the ocean won the game, and Peko got his feet wet, and then all of the humans ended up rolling up wet, sandy pantlegs; having shed our shoes back at the end of the path when we hit the beach.

I had to call the Firebird back several times, as he kept inching further and further out into the surf. An experienced parent, I had foreseen well enough to bring dry pants for both of them, but after a brief thought, had passed on a dry shirt for the Firebird. So, as much as he would have like a good soaking, it would have been a long cold ride home in a wet sandy shirt. And it was too cold to take off coats and shirts at the beach.

Suddenly I saw a squall kicking up out of the So'West-a nasty-looking, fast-moving beast. I gave them a few more minutes and we dashed over the beach, back over the path for probably the last time in our lives(since we really do try and live by rules in general) and to the causeway where we had left the car.

Just as it started to sprinkle. I doled out the dry pants , and once down to their underpants, the saplings had to scamper down the granite to wash the sand off their feet in the high tide, of their own choice, showing no hint of modesty, although there was nobody in sight.

So we loaded up the dog, the soaked sandy clothes, the sand bucket filled with bits of shell and rock and driftwood the Willow had claimed for souveniers. I emptied my pockets of a few late- season rugosa buds and we headed off the penisula.

And squall it did! We drove through a downpour-the lovely colored leaves mixed in with the rain and leaves as we drove away. We all had a lovely time!

No comments: