Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Incident at the Lunar New Year

The wildlife refuge at Plum Island is not a sanctuary from the everyday concerns of business, home, or everything that makes pop culture, but a place for life that’s wild, the shorebirds, hawks, coyote, deer, and occasional photographer or poet. Not everybody knows that though. Birders look for Iceland Gulls, or Northern Shrikes, and almost never look upon the land itself, that wilderness of marshes, dunes, and ocean.

But Barbara does. And so today she walks along the narrow strand of beach, her camera close at hand, and looks out on the indistinct sea, powder blue close at hand but dissolving into mist light blue skies. The tide is new moon high and soon the beach is nothing more than the steep side of dunes. The sand is soft and sloped, and walking is a chore for seventy-seven year old legs. Her breathing grows more labored, her steps unsure. Soon the only place she has to walk is in the wash of surf. With no way out she starts to think of sleeping in the dunes, despite her knowledge that a storm is brewing from the west and will bring snow and cold tonight from off the ocean.

Until she meets a man sitting on a driftwood tree writing in a journal. She stops still some feet before him. He greets her on the beauty of the day. She stares and does not answer. He notices the water lapping at her shoe. She’s old, he thinks, but healthy; her face is weathered from outdoors. Why is she walking this dangerous beach today?

He hails her again but still no answer. He notices confusion on her face. Are you alright he asks. She shakes her head indicating no. He rises and helps her to the driftwood tree and says just rest awhile. Her breathing is heavy, but soon grows normal as she then explains her plight. He answers there’s an entrance from the road just 100 hundred feet away. She just passed it in fact, he tells her. She sighs, and asks if he could walk her back and drive her to her car. And so he does.

She says he saved her life. He doesn’t tell her he’s just Coyote, but says he’s playing hooky today from work. He knows now the island called him there. He only thought he was hopping in the sun, but it had greater work for him to do. Because she loves the island for its wildness and not a place to stare at wildlife flying or dying, it finds a way to send her home, safe and sound.


leslee said...

This made me cry.

Anonymous said...

Sometimes we are the guardian angel!

BeckoningChasm said...

Most interesting, the idea that we are sometimes swept up in currents of which we are unaware, but which have use for us. Well done.