Glove, bottle and sock

Thu, 03/08/2012 - 2:29pm

Last night I dreamt I awoke to snow. I rarely remember dreams and wondered if snow had fallen in the night, but the memory was not of white brightening a darkened landscape, it was of morning.

Tonight it is raining.

We roll toward the equinox, the length of visible light already over 12 hours, the dark hold of winter broken. Mallards sit on the pavement in town, calmly ignoring anyone who does not stop with crumbs. I cannot help but think of Mr. & Mrs. Mallard scouring Boston for a proper nesting place, disdaining the Common for the mindless kids on bicycles and likewise the adjacent Public Gardens for the aloof swans gliding by on the pond.

These ducks should have their own story but they just sit, complacent, on the concrete, waiting to be admired for their glossy coats (his) or muted tones with classy color accent (hers). They do not even quack when I step closer with nothing that could be mistaken for bread in my hand. They almost look to be turning up their beaks in disgust.

I wonder if they have any idea bad weather is coming, then remember they are Nature’s creatures and probably knew long before I heard a forecast. They probably don’t care, with their feather coats, sure in their knowledge the spring tide is swelling and will soon ride in on long crested breakers that fill the night air with the sound of their arrival.

These creatures simply land one day. There was a white goose at the Old Harbor Dock for years, both out of place and as belonging as the gulls on the breakwater. The egret will come to the pond behind my house and stand tall and white and regal, or blend into the woody vines, depending upon the sunlight and shadows and, I like to imagine, his mood.

Then it will be spring. Tonight the wind pounds and the air is raw, casting off yesterday’s dreams of daffodils in bloom. The beach, I am sure, is shifting. It has been wide and wonderful, at four in the afternoon lighted by the sun but for the narrowest band in shadow below the dunes. Sand is moving, I can hear it in the sound of the wind that rattles the east windows.

Last week the remains of a deer lay in a tidal pool, this week it has been covered — not buried, but covered — with a layer of sand. The two dogs I had with me that day had fleeting interest, one seemed only concerned that other dogs would know he had been there, the other was sure there was a great treasure and dug furiously until she was able to pull out a small bone. I let her trot proudly down the beach with her trophy for a few minutes before taking it away.

She is a very good little dog and gave it up easily. A bit later she found a tuft of white hair in the sand, another treasure I wonder how we all missed the first time passing it. It was from the deer torso, I am sure. Several years ago I stumbled upon what seemed to be a great pile of feathers in the back lot; it was the remains of an animal.

Among the crazy radio out of Providence is a delightful Saturday morning show, with a local news man who is behind the desk during the week, and the time is as sweet as the other morning talk is toxic. He asks his daughter to “call Daddy” to confirm a story he tells every few weeks; she is not quite so old that she will not call, but she is on the edge, and begins the conversation with “Hi, Dad.”

Last week he had on a lady who lives down by the beach in Westerly who saw some Bigfoot-like creatures in her yard one night. Amazingly, two more people call in, with similar reports, all sounding completely serious, none of them with the pious lunacy that permeates weekday mornings. The wrap includes a conclusion that since no bones are ever found, these creatures do not exist.

I think of the bones in my field and wonder, again, if there are great piles of them in the deep woods of Block Island, along with the gas tanks and bed frames, all the stuff that is fleetingly visible at the end of winter, just before the new growth leafs out. Things thrown away, left behind, like the glove and bottle and sock I tally one day walking just to the beach.

There’s more odd trash about: cans in the brush, many brightly blue; a pallet that must have fallen off the stack of pallets destined to become a beach fire, left behind to lie weathered across the brush that lines the road; but the single glove and lone sock strike me as these things always do. Out on the sand one almost expects a sock, a left over of summer. But here on the path it is just odd, as is the glove (the bottle I add only because two items are too few, four too many, three like the porridge, just right).

These things, and a tennis ball and a hat and a scrap of shirt, have been so long in the rain and sun that they hold no interest for either dog, nor, it would seem, for any other creature passing by.

The rain has let up but there are great globs of green on the radar screen, rain which might or not land here. The air is thick with moisture, though, and I can just make out the flash of red that marks the top of the telephone tower; the white strobe that has been flashing from the one higher is obscured.

The last day of February would be March in another year, this Leap Day that keeps the calendar in order and is beginning to roar as it passes the baton in the relay race to March.