A brisk breeze from the southeast has pushed the water in further than normal. Hours after high tide, the small waves glint in the watery sunlight as they travel among the reed banks in the marsh. A cloudy day then, but not as cloudy as yesterday, and the wind is not north-north-east. Little flocks of small birds swarm in the air above the marsh.
It is not yet spring, but azaleas have budded and small purple and white flowers bloom beneath the light pole in the beach parking lot. In the childhood home, Not Yet Spring meant thirty inches of snow yesterday.
The breeze stiffens as the beach nears, and it chills. The leather jacket was a good idea. The tide has swept the beach clean, leaving clumps of reed at its highest point. Lines of determined larger birds travel north, pushed by the wind. Dark bodies, long necks, wings halfway down the body, perhaps a few hundred pass in twenty minutes. Do cormorants flock? A few pelicans glide above the water further in. High water, choppy water, cool temperatures – this is not a good fishing day, even for pelicans.
This stretch of sand shows a trail of pockmarks – perhaps an inch wide and less than two inches long. A woman has visited in heels. Later in the year – maybe even later in the day – the beach will show several of these trails, as oceanside weddings unfold. Weddings seem to bring out low temperatures and high winds. The stolid bridal party performs its task, the women in backless dresses lashed by blown sand and the men with collars of inadequate dress jackets turned up.
In the pond near home, a large heron stands, folded up like a fat umbrella on two stalky legs, waiting for the warmth. In the summer, the burghers will pay someone to remove alligators from this pond. For now, the bird stands in peace, untroubled by either alligators or their travel agents. Off the beach, the breeze ebbs and the sun strengthens. The warmth comes closer.