Things I find on the beach

A found a cat’s eye marble once.  A salt-pitted wedding band.  A mirror.

And you, of course, in my beach journal from Kalapaki Beach, Kauai one June.

Overheard in the water, father to his daughter on Saturday

The knee-high girl with butter blonde hair is bright as a bobbin in pink rash guard and orange ruffle bathing suit.  As she jumps small waves, she practices a new word.

Here comes undertow!
Can you see undertow?
There it is—
There’s undertow!
Here it comes again!
It’s undertow!
Jump undertow!
Here it is!
Here’s undertow!
We can’t ride undertow!
He can’t hurt you!
Here it is—
He’s undertow—

A wave washes up to her chest and she screeches in the way little girls at the beach sometimes do.


The man standing with her pulls her high into the air.

I’ve got you— I’ve got you—
I’ve got you—
Don’t worry
That’s just the current
It won’t hurt you
It can’t carry you away.
Don’t worry. I’ll never let go.
I’ve got you.
I’ve got you honey, I’m here.

Overheard the same day
This from the man in the navy blue baseball cap and black sunglasses to the boy calling, “Dad!  Dad!” who is trying to cling to his neck in the waves.

Touch me one more time and I will walk straight up to the babysitter and make a reservation for you.

The boy swims to the shore and walks away alone up the beach without looking back.

Later that day:  Seen but not heard at sunset

The man and woman recline side by side on lounge chairs.  Both silent. Both reading. She sets down her book, glances at him.  He doesn’t look up.

She peels her pink tank top over her head, sheds her khaki shorts.  She tiptoes across the hot sand to water’s edge and sits, facing the sea.

He looks up from his book to the horizon.  He sets down the book, stands and picks up a camera from the small glass side table.  His gait across the sand is silent, bobbly. Quite slow.  He peers through his viewfinder as he walks.

Without a word, he places his hand hand on the woman’s shoulder.  She swivels her head, upturns her cheek, mouths a silent “Oh?”

This is the moment he presses the shutter.  Then he lowers the camera from his face and returns the smile she shines upon him.

What else do I find by the sea? A thought.

Hours ago, a huge dock was found on Agate Beach in Oregon, debris finally at rest after its untethering from Japan during last year’s tsunami.  You can read about it here.  Official reactions are mixed.  Some marvel at its long journey. Others worry about the environmental contamination it might bring.

On this day by the beach, I too can’t help but wonder:  Will I leave behind delight or detritus today?  And you, what about you?

With all due respect to oceans and tides,

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