Monday, September 13, 2010

After the Earl

My last report followed a windy rainshower, and the flotsam was amazing. My September 4th collection followed what could have been a monster. So it's with no small relief that former Category 4 Hurricane Earl (a) lost its gusto, (b) tracked far out into the Atlantic, and (c) passed Maine's coast at low tide.

The morning after revealed a beach looking little different from the week before. Well, with one exception.
Hmm, something's missing...
Dismantling & removing the lifeguard station ahead of Labor Day = respecting Mother Nature. Still, at first it seemed Earl barely registered on Bay View beach. Heck, it didn't even toss about the previous week's abandoned kelp forest.
So I began my collection for the day. And then a funny thing happened. Halfway through, I started seeing something odd.

A weird, pulverized, fiber-y mass started washing in as the tide rose. In all the months I've beachcombed I'd never seen anything like it. It seems Earl had indeed left a parting gift, an organic "carpet" washing up on my shore. Except it wasn't just organics.
Claw band
Over and over, the waves brought bits of floating trash right up to my feet. First a claw band, then a piece of foam. It was astounding.
Another claw band
Another claw band, a gnarled piece of green plastic, a burned piece of wood, a cigarette butt, a bright yellow shard of hard plastic.
Bit of green plastic scrap
For months now I've arrived at the beach "after the fact." My feet reach the sand, and what's happening has already mostly happened. And I have to make educated guesses about where the junk has come from. But to actually see it arrive -- to watch the ocean depositing bits of man-made debris with each wave -- was sobering. And a gift. It made it real. Garbage patches, persistent trash, plastic in seabirds... it's not some farce or fantasy. It's out there, and it washes in with each storm. Even if said storm blessedly spares your home in other, more direct ways.

I only wish I'd had more time to spend at the beach that morning. Who knows how much else I'd have found.
Tidal "carpet" by the time I had to leave
As it was, I already left with a full, and heavy, bag -- and heart. The full collection report is still forthcoming. But I'll close this post with a teaser:
This was no small haul

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