FISH

 

All I want, I say to Eric, is my toes in the sand. It’s October and seventy degrees. The northeast wind carries the smell of the Atlantic and blows us to one of my favorite beaches. The minute the anchor is down, I launch a kayak and head for shore.

The river is whipped up by the wind, the sand warm and untrodden. Our little sailboat looks very far away, but it’s obvious from the color of the water and the pattern of waves that we’re as close as we can get with our five-foot draft. Later, I will take my paddle and find the bottom about twenty yards away from the boat. As usual, Eric has chosen the perfect anchoring spot, getting me as close to the beach as he can.

The view sweeps around: 360 degrees of nature, the dome of sky, the blue river, the sculptured sand and some scrubby brush and marsh. Way upriver, another boat flashes her white sail at me like a cheery hello, heading into South River.

I love to pick up trash on the beach, but this little gem was not coming out. I keep meaning to pack a knife, but I also keep forgetting to do it. At least no fish or turtle will be able to eat this one.

I got this one though, in spite of its flipping me off.

The sun made a beeline for the horizon so I made myself turn back. I could walk much longer, but Eric is waiting for me and I bet he’s making dinner. Been a long time since lunch.

There is always something new to see.

I decide to take this rope after I photograph it. Unwinding it takes more time than I expected. The wind is a busy knitter. Part of me hates to dismantle this bit of art, but at least I captured it.

There is always some special treat on the beach. Perfectly serviceable hats, usable fishing lures and once a vintage Chrysler hubcap, have all found their way back to our boat. This time, it was a fish.

I spend quite some time admiring its remains, capturing what I could of the magnificence. Scales the size of half dollars glitter on the sand in the setting sunlight. A fisherman slit this creature behind the gills and filleted it, leaving the bones to weather like a giant’s ivory toothpicks. Up close, the gills are feathery, almost like the baleen of a whale, the tail either buried or gone. I hope the fisherman put the fillets on the grill and sprinkled them with lemon juice. I bet they were tender and perfect. I would have liked to see this fish in the water, watch its powerful tail propel it, but even with its tiny teeth, I wouldn’t want to meet this guy in a dark alley. From the size of him, it looks like he could swallow my foot. Then, I might never get my toes in the sand.