Tale of two beaches

24 02 2015

Over the weekend, I had the great pleasure of serving on a panel discussing waste disposal and the impacts of human trash on the environment and human and wildlife health. Many thanks to Annie Hooper and Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary for inviting me! While we were down on the Cape for our whirlwind, sub-24 hour visit, we stopped by First Encounter Beach in Eastham, MA. This is a bay-facing beach, rather than an ocean-facing one, so it is more sheltered, with less wave activity, and thus, more prone to at least partial freeze-ups. We were surprised to find, however, that the bay was entirely locked in by piled slabs of ice as far out to the horizon as we could see. It was not clear where the ice-covered beach ended and the ice-covered bay began.

Here's me at the presumptive edge of the bay.

Here’s me at the presumptive edge of the bay.

My sons were thrilled, as they are on a mountaineering kick in their reading, and this was the closest they will be getting to a glacial crevasse field any time soon.
It was good to get to a beach at all, however ice-covered, as the beach I normally walk in Salisbury, MA has been unreachable for the past month. The mile long road in to the parking lot finally succumbed to the drifting snow this month, and last time I tried to go, I had to give up, and drive my poor Prius in reverse for three quarters of a mile back to the state park entrance when blowing snowpiles made the last reaches impassable. I am hopeful for a walk in March, but we will play it by ear. For the Cape Cod Bay beaches, it’s hard to imagine how any dead bird would ever arrive on the beach, with what looks like miles of ice between the sand and the open water. I have to imagine we will see a downtick in beached birds when we look at the data from those beaches for these latter weeks of winter.
Meanwhile, down south, I have a couple photos to share of Seanetter Lori Porwoll. Lori ordered a SEANET shirt from me a year and a half ago, but her check was quite literally lost in the mail. I only recently unearthed it in an unopened packet of mail I found in a closet, and I finally sent her the shirt. As you can see from the pics, it’s warm enough on Lori’s South Carolina beach to wear the shirt (albeit with a layer underneath).

Our walking billboard, Lori.

Our walking billboard, Lori.

I know it shouldn’t constantly amaze me–the geographic differences in weather–but it always does. In conversation with an acquaintance of mine from Alabama, she asked why hikers and backpackers in New England complain of missing the trail this time of the year. “Why not just go out? A good jacket and some boots are all you really need, right?” I can scarcely convey to her what nine feet of overall snow looks like, nor what it feels like to walk out into -8 degree air this morning to bring water to the chickens. Even my cross-country ski outings have been curtailed this week by severe wind chills. But, as everyone keeps pointing out, “Spring is coming next month!” I can’t argue with calendar spring being close at hand, but right now, the concept of mud season (spring in New England) seems like something I imagined once and have since mostly forgotten. I will be glad to get back out to beach MA_23 at some point. Come to think of it, couldn’t I do a SEANET survey on skis?




2 responses

24 02 2015

Sorry to have missed your panel appearance in Wellfleet. We were offcape for the weekend. Could you write a post about the movie and “trash talk” panel discussion?

26 02 2015

good idea! I will!

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