Saturday, December 19, 2009

A reckless act by an otherwise cautious person

As ridiculous as it seems to proclaim publicly my personal stupidity, perhaps my experience of today will save someone else from being so reckless.

My sister (the one in Gloucester) is crazy for shipwrecks, so when she asked me to snap a few pics of our alleged exposed shipwreck on PI, I set out to find it.

I didn't find it, but that's not the point.

I walked and walked south on the Refuge beach, which was fine and dandy. I used to do it all the time, when I first lived here.

What I didn't think about was walking back. I forgot that often walking south on the beach is fine, but the wind is at your back. Walking north, the wind is in your face; it's pushing you back and you get TIRED and COLD, real fast. Especially if you're not in as good shape as you were 4 yrs. ago, when you had just moved from Boston where you walked everywhere.

I really thought I was going to die on that beach - half frozen, no one else in sight, no sense of time, no cell phone - and if I hadn't been on a beach with a clear line to civilization, I would have been lost.

No one knew I was out there - I had told my sister I didn't go because when I went the first time, I didn't have $5 for admittance to the Refuge.

At the end, just when I thought parking lot 3 was still way off and there was no way my tired legs would hold up, I saw a tiny red dot on the dune. It moved and I knew it was a person, standing on the boardwalk.

As I got closer, I saw the person, wearing a red coat looking down the beach with binoculars. I guess it was a birdwatcher. I managed to summon the energy to move up to the boardwalk, climb up the slope and along the (really long) boardwalk, back to my car.

I took off my gloves and my hands were bright red; every part of me below my waist ached (except for my feet - but they were wet from walking in the wet sand, which was easier to walk on). It was difficult for me to depress the clutch on my car.

Don't go walk on the Refuge beach alone. I can't believe I did it regularly, 4 years ago. I can't believe I did it today. I also can't believe that when I got to my car, I was still clutching the shells and driftwood I had picked up along the way out.

I wasn't paying much attention to beach detritus on the way back.


Anonymous said...

Marry (*)! Thank heavens you made it home from sea(side), albeit somewhat the worse for wear.

Reading of your experience immediately recalled a bit of history (or rather "herstory") ---

About another "casual incident" on Plum Island experienced by local (19th Century) poet Hannah Flagg Gould, which inspired her to write her the following poem.

"A Name in the Sand" (**)

Alone I walked the ocean strand:
A pearly shell was in my hand:
I stooped and wrote upon the sand
My name, the year, the day.
As onward from the spot I passed.
One lingering look behind I cast:
A wave came rolling high and fast.
And washed my lines away.

And so, methought, 'twill shortly be
With every mark on earth from me.
A wave of dark oblivion's sea
Will sweep across the place
Where I have trod the sandy shore
Of time, and been to be no more.
Of me — my day — the name I bore,
To leave nor track, nor trace.

And yet, with Him. who counts the sands,
And holds the waters in his hands,
I know a lasting record stands
Inscribed against my name.
Of all this mortal part has wrought.
Of all this thinking soul has thought.
And from these fleeting moments caught
For glory or for shame.

****** FOOTNOTES ******

* Marry being an archaic exclamation of surprise or emphasis; the interjection, now obsolete, a corruption of the Virgin Mary.

** Reference p. 663 of Currier's "Ould Newbury, Historical and Biographical Sketches," which concludes the chapter on Hannah Flagg Gould (pp. 659 - 663).

This piece a tad maudlin, perhaps. But now that you are safe and sound, thought one would pass it along, since one oft mentioned Hannah to you (***).

*** More e-mitted via conventional e-mail, including hyperlinks.

Comity said...

Posted as a follow-up the above comment (previously "forwarded in a Motion of Comity"):

Most relieved to have received a reply to one's email (referenced in footnote *** above) ...

Which ensured that "Port Reporter Unlimited" has delimited her seaside adventures during the Nor'easter.

And reassured that she will follow the broad appeal of her friends and followers ...

That from hereon in she will take more care when out and about ...