I suppose there were some clues. For one, the presence of the sand shelf. It seems so hopeful at the time: the sand is building up! Last time I remember a sand shelf like this was in 2010, and that was a very bad winter indeed.
But now things have gotten very serious. Yesterday the Yellow and Brown Compound was flying in the air.
I heard it fell off the bank later in the day.
My neighbor Resha built an elaborate beach garden this summer. Now she is digging up and giving away her plants.
For the past three years, my neighbors have been waterfront. This includes my neighbor over the fence, Craig. Craig being waterfront has meant that I am Next to Next. I have no desire to be waterfront, for that would make me Next. But things are not looking good over at Craig’s place.
I know, in some part of my brain, that nothing lasts: spring, youth, beauty, your pets, your Mom, this moment. I like to think that I embrace this, that photography’s currency is things vanishing. That, as a gardener, I’ve seen leaves fall enough times to know it’s a cycle. All this sounds great in theory. I’m not ready. This can’t be happening.
My first year here I met an old woman on the beach who told me she keeps coming back for the smell. I smelled it when I pulled into my driveway Friday morning: wet trees, moss, salt water and sand, an intoxicating brew. The woman told me she’d had “ten good years” here. I’ve had twelve. It’s not enough, never will be.
Like the smell, I’m trying to practice savoring. I must closely observe and experience the warmth of my fire, the percussive drumbeat of rain on my trailer’s roof, to each day I’m lucky enough to have here. If I could just act with such certainty that all things won’t last, then I’d be really paying attention. Premature grief is what I feel.
But then, amid all this, are these messages of hope: “May you have a shell in your pocket and sand in your shoes.”