Saturday, August 12, 2017

Elephant Anniversary

Tuesday, August 1

Our 13th anniversary.

Mark, Melissa, Maria and I went to the south end of the island and hunted for shells.  It was warmer than I expected because there was not much wind.  In the distance, a school bus of children took surfing lessons.

The New Jersey shore has whelk, razor clam, and large moon snail shells.  And scallops (Oregon has them too, only not quite so big and dark).  Shells and fragments paralleled the tide line along the strand.  The biggest difference between the beaches is that Oregon beaches have tons of logs and driftwood, and I've yet to find a stick here.   This beach made me realize that the beach near our rental is groomed, because there was a zone of grass and debris about forty feet from the high tide mark here.  A grassy nature reserve stretched along the bay-side of the island.

We separated to work different parts of the beach.  The sun pressed down upon us as we worked our way south and up the beach.  After a while, standing up after crouching over a wash of gravel, sand, and shell fragments made me a little woozy.

Collecting shells made me think of some shelled, pre-spaceflight aliens I'd written, and I wondered what it would be like to have an external shell, and what sorts of metaphorical shells we build up as we age.  Do those shells become our houses, or the way we hold our bodies as the years progress; do our skulls become a kind of inward turning spiral, made not of calcium, but rather our beliefs and experiences?

Later on, Mark and I stumbled across some ghost crabs, which scuttle sideways.  I managed to get close to one to see how it was jointed, because I'm writing some space-faring alien bugs and I wanted to see how arm and leg joints might work.  The crabs lunge quickly, in a flurry of legs and sand, and I imagine my alien bugs might walk in the same sudden fashion (only forward-back instead of sideways).

While we were walking through the crabs, we ran into a couple returning from the beach.  He was sort of beach-grizzled in high-end shorts and a collared beach shirt.  She was younger and wore a kind of crocheted net wrap, with stars knitted in, over her black, one-piece bathing suit.  I not-so-secretly wanted her wrap, (without the stars) because I've mentally re-worked an old Egyptian cure for a Pharaoh's melancholy involving female, mesh-dress wearing barge rowers and I think I could pull it off (at the right angle and in the right light).   It's that whole accentuate-and-conceal thing.  Mmm... barge rowers, rowing along the Nile... thick-stringed net wraps clinging as they... --er--  But Mark thought it would be a choking hazard, so we didn't drop everything and search for one in a boutique.  "They look like an ad for Viagra," he added, and I had to agree.

Today was a writing day for me; the shell hunt was my only foray to the beach -- which was a good thing for my skin, as I am getting too much sun.  I worked on what is turning into a series of short sci-fi first-contact stories.

I also napped; this vacation I'm simultaneously in the Pacific and Eastern time zones: getting up around 6AM EST, writing and doing beach activities in the morning, feeling a second wind 10 AM EST, eating and snacking a lot, eating a large lunch around 2PM EST with a nap, and then more activities.  If I'm good, I get to bed 10 PM EST, but usually folks are active then so I might stay up later for a game.

After my late-afternoon nap, Mark and I went out for our thirteenth anniversary event.  We found a hardware store (where I wanted to get a yardstick, but closed) and a bookstore (to get books for The Child, also closed) and then went looking for old Victorian style houses.  We didn't really find any, also we did find two fountains with mermaid trios.  Then we wound up on a toll bridge, got a little lost, and wound up at Lucy The Elephant (http://www.lucytheelephant.org/).

Mark had been wanting to see Lucy the Elephant anyway, so we marched up for a tour.  Lucy--a four story, tin-plated, wooden building in the shape of an elephant--was built in the 1880's.  A National Historic Site, she's been a bar briefly, and tourist attraction for about 130 years.

We were the only ones on our tour.  We climbed up a tight spiral staircase in her left hind leg.  From the woodwork and wainscoting, we could tell she was built by shipwrights.  We ended up in a large, resonant, chapel-like room, which had more square footage than our house.  The windows and doors were peaked in a vaguely Persian manner.  A glass skylight provided lots of light.

We climbed another curling stairway, through a boat hatch, and onto Lucy's hadow (the basket on her back).  We had a fine view of the Atlantic and of the surrounding buildings.

"So," I asked our tour guide of about seventeen tender years, "about how many Moulin Rouge re-enactments do you get a year?"

"Moulin What?" She looked at me blankly.

"Oh," I said to Mark, "You were right."

We had to explain--there was very little singing involved. (Sigh:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moulin_Rouge! )


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