The bottom, slipping away under my kayak, ornamented with waving strings of eelgrass, patches of open sand, the litter of ribbed clam shells. Barnacle-encrusted crabs face squarely into the current; schools of small fish dart to intercept food bits carried on the incoming tide. The kayak and I and a moving cloud of seaweed bits, shimmering jellyfish and the morning's banquet ride in on the last of the flood.
One hundred yards from shore, paddling down the east side, I pass a new waterfront mansion rising in a skeleton of framing timbers, gleaming raw in the morning sun. Just south of the beach front there is a sign, warning: "Private Tidelands to extreme low tide beyond this point. Take no shellfish." In the shallows under the sign, a harbor seal ignores both the house and the imperative warning of ownership. She glides through the clear water, taking her breakfast.
Last evening, laying back with a hot mug of chocolate in the cockpit of my boat, I listened to a seal fin-slapping the water, feeding in the darkness, the sounds booming in the night like pistol shots.
(Graybyrd - 9/4/96)