Anyway. Going out into nature with Mom is always an adventure. "Look!" she said excitedly somewhere behind me, as we combed through the brush on opposite sides of the paved walking path, "Coyote poop!" I didn't even turn around. "Score," I said, and hoped the matter would drop. Coyote poop. Jesus.
I even did some interacting with the humans today. Mom told me as we were making our way across the beach, "You know...while you're out here, you have to be an ambassador of goodwill. It's part of the job." "I don't even know what that means," I said. "It means you have to be smile and be nice to the people." Ah. A family was out walking, and the two kids, little girls, were skipping along the beach and poking at seashells. They passed me. "Are you collecting trash?" one asked. I only glanced at the giant black garbage bag in my hand for a split second. I bit back my immediate impulse to respond something about how, no, I was burying the body of a small child, and instead I said, "Yes!" very brightly and smiled. A lot. I may have waved my bag. The children skipped on. Humans!
There were other, more interesting characters, though. One was this older guy...maybe 60s? He stopped to talk to us about the state of the preserve, and how he wished more people would take better care of it. He lives nearby, I think, and he says he's been coming there "every day for about ten years, almost." Wow. So, yeah, I guess you'd get a bit invested in the state of your beach. He was pretty cool; I'm convinced he much enjoyed the ganja. Something about his mode of speech and socializing. Anyway, I actually saw him again after we'd talked; we passed each other on the beach much later. We waved.
Another guy I met also lived fairly close by. He was probably the same age as the other guy, retired, basically. We encountered him on a little wooden deck that's sort of the entryway to the beach from the nearest city streets. This was apparently the first time he'd found this spot, though, as he was out on a bike ride along the beach and had never come this way before due to the beaches being closed all summer. He was extolling the virtues of his lifestyle, and how great it was to live so close and be able to bike down to this beach and sit on this bench. I had to agree...it sounded pretty sweet. :)
I like the beach in the off-times. I like to go in the fall or winter or at night. I don't like beach crowds in the summer. I don't like sun, heat, or gobs of people in swimwear. But I like the ocean; it's very calming. I like the semisolid feel of sand under my feet. I like the breeze and the way sound is so different because of the white noise of the sea and the wide open space around me. I like dunes and a landscape littered with empty seashells. I like seeing footprints, but not the people who made them. And then I like it when the waves come up and wash away all traces of passage. It's a good place to sit and think, and a good place to stroll. Not a bad gig, all things considered; all of that when the price of admission is picking up discarded coffee cups and smiling and waving to kids skipping by? Yeah...I can dig it.