Cricket loves bird poop. To be fair, she loves poop of all kinds. When she goes to the beach, she noses every pole and bench and wooden slat, and she can inspect one blade of grass for hours if an animal has left traces behind. She is a one dog C.S.I. team.
Both of my dogs love the beach, and my Mom loves the beach, but I don’t. I feel itchy and grumpy and inexplicably hopeless there. I force myself to go, like I force myself to take vitamins, because it’s supposed to be good for me.
We got into the habit of walking along the boardwalk at the beach for twenty minutes or so a day when we lived at the old apartment. I was already struggling to walk right, and Mom hoped that the fresh air, and the soft wood planks under my feet, and of course, the handrails, would help.
Mom believes that the smell of the seaweed, and the swirling patterns of the seagulls, and the sound of the waves have a healing power. She takes her camera along and charts the changing character of the water.
When we moved to the new apartment we stopped our daily trips to the beach. The extra ten or fifteen minute drive was a good excuse, but not the real reason. Despite endless attempts, I still hated the briny taste of the air, and the indifference of the seagulls, and the squawking predatory sound they made when they circled a pile of stale bread in the parking lot. I was still afraid of the creepy crawlies that lived under the dark green water, and the slippery sea plants wrapping themselves around my ankles.
I forced myself to go back to the beach again in mid October. I felt silly for avoiding it, and I wanted the dogs to have a chance to socialize with other dogs, on leashes, and to sniff new things that don’t live in my backyard. Once again, the girls loved it, and Mom loved it, and I didn’t.
I sound like a curmudgeon. Beaches are supposed to be inspiring and life giving and romantic, and instead, they make me feel like life is not worth living. Even watching Butterfly sniff every spot Cricket had just sniffed couldn’t quite cheer me up. And I don’t know why. There are too many mysteries like this that I can’t resolve.
I’ll go back again, eventually, if only to make my family happy. In the meantime, I walk by the local pond instead. I nod to the ducks, and look up as packs of geese fly by, and shake my fist at the signs that say my dogs are not welcome in this lovely place, where Cricket could sniff bird poop to her heart’s content.
(All pictures in this post taken by Naomi Mankowitz – aka Grandma)