Beachcombers in the Rain (again)

Beachcombers in the Rain (again)

Fall in coastal New England...aka peak sea glass season! When everyone else moves out, and we settle into our beach town for another winter. It’s a very special time for all involved, especially the beachcombers. Predictably, these are the folks we can expect to primarily encounter at the beach during this time, with surfers and dog walkers being two other groups with statistically significant representation. 

In fact, Cole and I tend to slide right into that latter group anytime we aren’t occupying one of the beachcomber spots, because our pups also love visiting the beach in the fall! Dogs aren’t allowed until after a certain date in late summer, unless we want to shell out the $50 police fine (or “dog entry fee,” as we like to call it). Simply a price of admission for people who have money to burn. Those who don’t, on the other hand, come to the beach in droves from now until June. 

As for the surfers, they can tolerate the cool temperatures and wind long after the swimmers and sunbathers retreat. They stay safe and warm in their wetsuits, taking advantage of crowd evaporation and wave acceleration. The water actually tends to be at its warmest temperatures now anyway, after two straight seasons being heated by the sun. Thunderstorms and rain churn the waves, creating perfect surfing crests and also turning over lots of sea glass. 

So we all flock here, and spread out and pretend we’re on our own private spits of land and shoot scenes that cut any neighboring party off by mere feet and make it look like we have the whole place to ourselves. It’s perfect and we are part of it and that doesn’t happen everyday. So we shouldn’t let go of that, right? It’s nothing to toss back into the waves to tumble for longer? Just pick up and slip it into the jar still sticky and raw and take it home for cuffing season and keep our feet warm and forget about it. 

No one told us what the beach was like in the heat, though. Full of picnic trash and carelessness and other sorts of sordid discards all strewn across the sand. Snaring our perfect shoreline and endangering all of the nesting birds. Picked over and disagreeable with water being strained through seaweed. Just like the story where everyone gathered their resolve and gathered to save the sharks and no one forecasted the shark infestation. From endangered to overpopulated in only a few generations. Doesn’t swimming in shark-infested waters feel like déjà vu after all of that hunting and trapping and trading and illegal importation? Why do mistakes have to be so cyclical?

Somehow we always end up going around again. Circling another season for the promise of memories. I’m afraid of how many times it could happen before the cycle breaks. People who don’t like boundaries and walls and borders and picket fences usually love circles. They’re the same people who love trees and seashells, fractals and repeating patterns. So predictably self-destructive, spiraling in mathematical chaos. Programmed to expand but never fundamentally change. 

Sometimes this expansion masquerades as change because we can feel things growing. But a closer look reveals it’s just another ring around a tree trunk. Cross-sectioned for replication but not expected to deviate. In fact, doing so would indicate genetic divergence or environmental disturbance. Is deviation what it takes? An unexpected disruption leading to eventual premature death and in exchange, escape? Another example of nature taking precedent; exposing the optimists for their secret wickedness, for believing in strange things like positive change and self-directed fate.   

Fall sand dunes inhabit their own distinct state of being. The plants and new growth on the uppermost part of the shore yellow with funny little autumn blossoms. Waxy red rosebuds cast a distinctive tint over everything. Sunsets and waves go all gold-dipped and september-ended, even though typical foliage is nowhere to be seen. Maybe on the bay side, we'd see more chlorophylled ocean views, but the lack of glass means we have barely any idea how it looks at this time of year.

Fall sunsets do their own thing, too. They turn the rocks and the sand and the water into peach fuzz and russet glow. It’s not like winter, when the beach is purple and clean and glacial and bone-white. It’s not like spring, when the shells are pinched pink and the sand is a salt-lick of rosebud clusters. It’s not like summer, when cotton candy tie-dyes the sky in boat wings and gull sails.