Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Storm after the Calm

Ever sit down to write about a recent event, and realize you just don't have the photo you need? November 24 at Bay View beach, Saco, Maine, was 41° F. A stiff northerly wind gusted over 30 mph. Many times I had to turn my face to duck a sandblast. And my trash bag kept trying to pull free from my hand, hoping to scatter my finds back to the shore. But do you see any of that in this picture?
Looks like a lovely beach day, no?
Still, there is proof. Angry wind & wave had carried in a piece of flotsam most unlooked-for. Remember the chunk of fiberglass from last week? It was just the leading edge of a much bigger, and heavier, surprise.
Is there still more lurking?
This battered 6 ft x 5 ft fiberglass hull fragment is now the second partial boat that I've found washed up. It had no markings on what was left of it, no personal effects. Most likely, it simply ripped away from a mooring and broke up a long time ago, with no loss of any crew. Still, I'll be just as happy not to find a third.

Mother Nature is kicking into gear. The shoreline is fast changing. Summer's sands are being blown & washed back down into the waves, steepening the slope dramatically. There are now two tide lines, with a berm grown in-between.
Two kelp rows (center and far right)
Still, for all the bluster, last week was the lightest haul I'd ever had. Could I hope for a repeat performance?

No. Beyond pieces of seacraft, this day quickly dispelled any cautious optimism I may have had. The tide line teemed with trash. Battered, abused, abraded trash. Every few steps, another piece popped out.
A scene of lobster claw bands...
...and frayed fishing rope...
...and shredded plastic cups
An hour and a half later, I'd only managed to scour the berm, not the whole beach. (Granted, I'd lost time dragging the boat carcass to the trash bin in the parking lot.) I decided to return the next day (Thanksgiving) to hit the rest.

Thanksgiving morning was only 33°, but it was bright and calm. I started with a stroll back to the tide line, just to see if I'd missed anything the day before. And within seconds I was off to the races again. Dozens upon dozens more bits and bobs were sitting pretty.
Driftwood threading the needle
Cheerrful plastic gem button
Which pebble doesn't belong?
An hour later, I'd still only managed to hit the tide lines again. In two days, I never got time to walk carefully up and down from wave to dune. (Though a cursory walk suggested the wind had left little to be found.)

In much the same way, there are too many interesting finds from this week to fit in this post. As a teaser for the forthcoming collection report, here's what I hauled in.
Zone N
Zone S
And as with the shotgun shell from last week, there is no doubt that much of this had ridden the waves for months (or years) before arriving back on my shore.
Sauce packs and egg sacs
Keep in mind, all of this comes from two small sections of beach. Two small sections that I have visited -- and scoured --almost every week since June. My part of southern Maine sits far away from any of the great gyres of the world. Yet the refuse of our artificial life just keeps coming in. Look down at your feet. What do you see?

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