“Being Irish, he had an abiding sense of tragedy, which sustained him through temporary periods of joy.” -William Butler Yeats

“Despair not, I say, for your days of despair will soon be over. Your calm spirit and your good sense will see you through all emergencies…Drop another Coin in slot and I will tell you more.”-Estrella’s Prophecies machine, Ye Olde Curiosity Shop

Mixed messages.

“A series of significant storms,” is what the New York Times called it, while the South Beach Bulletin‘s front page screamed, “Washaway Beach Lifestyle Dreams, Going, Going, Gone!” Like a tigress, the SBB waits to pounce with the phrase “another home succumbed to Mother Nature’s fury!”

It can’t be helped, when doom has been your beat for so many years.

Ms. Nature never can be reached for comment. Those not yet personally acquainted with Fury are “perched on the edge of oblivion, just waiting for the next high tide.”

There is lots of perching on the edge of oblivion going on.

It’s hard to believe that Roger’s place is waterfront. He was across the street from the Driftwood Lane house, and my friends Ray and Juanita’s place.


I always liked this place. It had a wooden statue of a sea captain and a sign that said “Tides-A-CoM’N.” Their last name is Nelson and the family patriarch made it for his initials, CMN. The sign inspired me to give that name to my series of high tide favorites on my washawaybeach.com site. Thanks and condolences to the Nelson captain and crew.

Most alarmingly, the erosion is occuring on a curve now, so that the water is coming from two directions, both across the road and at the end of my street.

The grey house at the end of Whipple, with its magnificent porch and trees, seemed like it might still have a little time.

There was a clothesline on its porch that I was very taken with. I went on a little reverie about Impermanence, and how the impermanent structures are as permanent as anything here. You know how sentimental I get. I went on a safari, stalking tire swings and other temporary structures.

Waterfront clothesline.

Waterfront tire swing.

Japanese ink wash painting

A couple weeks ago I was walking on the beach with Ray and his little dog, Chuy. A bald eagle, ordinarily a welcome sight, was zipping around overhead, and Ray was worried it was going to pick off his little pal.

It struck me how having something to care about equals something to worry about, to fear for. How does anyone drive around with a baby without being in a constant  panic about the danger lurking everywhere?

I asked my friend Tony, who has a five-year-old, about this. “You have to adjust your brain, or you’ll never make it through the words to ‘Rock-A-Bye-Baby’,” Tony said. “Babies bounce,” he added.

Irish wolf hound and Chuy

Chuy, Ray, King, Craig

An informal survey of Washaway menswear trends find my neighbor Craig blazing the trail with his spring collection, what with his “Shorts Now, It’s March” mantra and attention to footwear and accessories.

Craig Pagel

Craig is fabulous, though I disapprove of him teasing the ocean, giving it his number, by posting a sign on his house that says “RRRRRRRRRR, WILLY B. NEXT!” I am finding his apocalypse fashion forwardness downright inspiring, to where I feel I should really start stepping up. Bring me your ridiculous size 8 bridesmaid dresses, that I may rock them on the beach!

If now we are the spectacle, let’s put on a show.

In other creative pursuits, Craig has been shooting video of houses falling into the ocean at Washaway Beach and posting them on his website. You should check them out, if you like that sort of thing:



It is just not ideal if the ocean can be glimpsed from the window of one’s trailer. That wind came roaring through the slumber of Nyquil like a freight train.

You hear about windows blowing out in massive storms. Watching the rain blowing sideways at my aluminum single-pane window in the 60 mph wind, I had suddenly the distinct impression that I was witnessing the sights and sounds preceding such an event .

In Rhode Island there was a hurricane false alarm one time and they had us tape up the dorm room windows with X’s. This suddenly seemed like a very fine idea. The ill wind howled in a way that did not blow any good.

About 25 feet fell in that night.



I’ve told you about my enchanted path through the forest, the Elfin Grove, with its tunnel of trees. Now it’s almost gone and can barely be called a path. The loss is hard to bear.

Last weekend was mostly sunny and beautiful. I have Mondays off now, and I set out for a morning walk. I ran into Stanley, who told me to “Say a prayer for Ray.”


Ray had been strolling on the beach in the sunshine with his son and Chuy. They passed a guy who lives on Tamerack, a “salvager” (read: looter) with a brown and white pit bull. The dogs sniffed each other. They’d met before. Then the pit bull bit Chuy’s leg off.

I began to entertain fantasies of running through the streets with the heads of the pit bull and its owner on a spike, like a kebab, but due to my “calm spirit” I opted for a crying jag instead.

The grey house with the clothespins and porch had entirely disappeared, save its foundation. The beach was not providing any comfort now. It just seemed cruel.

Tire swing

Yes, I know, it’s Washaway Beach, doom’s always been on the horizon, but now that Oblivion is coming for real, it is hard not to be brained by anxiety and ominous foreboding and dread.

I need, it seems, to adjust my brain.

Isn’t this what you might call superstition, the idea that good luck can be manifested, that the right kind of thinking, actions, rituals can change the outcome? Do our thoughts have power, or is this a just a story we tell ourselves? Like believing that taking a picture of something can make it last.

Support the arts. Soon, I fear, I will need your help. You believe in good luck, don’t you? Maybe you don’t get down here much and it would be nice if someone kept an eye on things. You have some spot where I could put my trailer and stay for a day or two, every week or so. I’m sure we can work out some favorable arrangement. I can cut grass and play jazz trumpet, although not at the same time. I need to be able to still come here.

In the meantime, I must try to accentuate the positive, redirect the scary thoughts. I will not think of oblivion, perching, succumbing, or the high tides-a-coming for the only thing I own in the world. I can think of no more potent symbol of the triumph of the spirit over adversity than a three-legged dog.





About washybeach

Washaway Beach This Week is a blog by photojournalist Erika Langley. See more work at www.erikalangley.com.
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2 Responses to Tides-A-Com’n

  1. Linda (Nelsen) Merkel says:

    Thanks for the Wishes to our “Nelsen” Family….We hate to see this happening but it is now an empty shell…We have taken the life out of it to be remembered sweetly forever in our hearts…My Dad CMNelsen will be turning 90 this April and has had this property since the mid 70’s..We are ready to make more memories elsewhere…The Tide Has Come for Us Unfortunately……<3

  2. Sheila Marie says:

    Hi again Ericka, us Californians were there on March 31 and April 1, I gathered some driftwood and odds and ends from around my Grandpa’s place, Tides-A-CoM’N. We turned into salvagers for a few hours, removing pieces of doors, cabinets and paneling for my aunts to keep, just trying to save a few pieces before the ocean took it all away. I know the memories will be around forever in us, but I figured a few physical reminders wouldn’t hurt. What did hurt was the bruises I got from slip-sliding around the almost vertical trailer, but all in all, it was a fun time 🙂
    Best of luck with your end of Washaway, and I hope you find a new place to continue your days there. My Aunt Pam bought a new lot, so family trips won’t be ending with the washing away of Spruce and Ashton!
    🙂 Sheila

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