Equinox today, the autumnal shift. The daylight is rapidly fading and the sun seems cooler somehow, as we tilt towards winter.
Last Sunday, Mac and I journeyed down to the sea for what may be one of the last times this year. The sky was a deep, cerulean blue, unmarred except by the yellow sun and a few airplanes. The atmosphere was so crisp and dry that the short, white con-trails the jets made dissipated rapidly, making them appear like distant comets, arcing above the horizon, following the curve of the earth. No clouds seemed to form at all that day.
Through the fringe of my half-closed eyes, I watched as sandpipers and plovers dodged the surf. Glistening, clear jellyfish dotted the wet sand between multi-colored stones and clumps of seaweed. Gentle, coke-bottle green waves rolled in to shore, breaking into cascades of lacy foam before retreating back out to sea. Cabin cruisers bobbed on the surface of the bay and white sailboats shimmered like ghosts on the horizon as we luxuriated in the warmth of the late September sun.
Rigby dug a hole in the shade of Mac's beach chair and burrowed into the cool sand to watch the ringed gulls strut by us, searching for scraps and picking at abandoned shells, amid the washed up strands of kelp.
Later, as we watched the sun sinking low over bay, I was transfixed by the flashing diamonds it created, spangling the mud left exposed by the ebbing tide. Suddenly, I realized there was movement on the mudflats; a billion tiny periwinkles were stirring all around us, wondering where the sea had gone, their shiny, wet shells catching and reflecting back the sun's light like little jewels.
There may be other days at the shore in the weeks to come, but I will probably not swim in the ocean again until next May or June. Instead, Mac and I will most likely spend the brief hours walking on the sand with Rigby, greeting other dogs and their people, wearing our fleece jackets and warm-up pants or jeans. This brings a big sigh, because as I may have mentioned, winter is very long in these parts.