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May 30th, 2007

vast planet [May. 30th, 2007|01:54 pm]

Motorcycle in the sand
Originally uploaded by Captain_Peleg
The sea is so vast and my bike so small... or something like that. I keep finding strange fragments of plastic toys on the beach. I guess I notice them because they're so much more brightly colored than the pieces of the lot 1 stairs/boardwalk and other people's stairs and boardwalks and dune walkovers. And sand. More sand every week.

It amazes me that with all the news coverage of "beach erosion" and "storm damage" the press still doesn't get it that sand circulates. It goes out. It comes back in. Otherwise that darn unburied whale would be stinking up the beach all the time. Thankfully, the sand has come back in and covered it.

Meanwhile,. between gray cubicles and the beach, I went to Texas for 3 days to see the Ex-Ex-Pat and family, especially family, before they move to Qatar and become a whole little family of Ex-Pats. The twins are 7 months old now and huge. They somehow grew from tiny to 95th percentile in 7 months. They look like the Ex-Pat. Lili especially. She has his temperament too. Like, "oh, an entire middle eastern country is exploding, remain calm, we can fix it." Of course, I think both twins and the Ex-Pat prefer to play with the non-exploding middle eastern countries. Actually I think the babies prefer to play with the cat but a middle eastern country will do in a pinch.

Maybe when the twins are done building LNG facilities they could come back and help the Beach Boys rebuild their dune walkover.
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Blue plastic toy in the wrack [May. 30th, 2007|05:19 pm]
This is a surrealistic toy shot from the end of April after the storm. I should start a whole "toys in the wrack" blog. Somebody asked the what I meant by "wrack line" the other day. The zones of the beach are so ingrained in me that I don't always realize that "the beach" is just one big sandy thing to many people.

So here's the basic description: The wrack line is made up of dried grasses from the salt marsh, seaweeds, general flotsam including plastic toys, and all that other stuff that washes up on the beach and stays behind when the tide goes out. Bugs live in it. Piping plovers nest between it and the dunes -- and they eat the bugs amidst the wrack. I think it's called wrack line because "wrack" is another name for marine vegetation -- a lot of seaweeds have wrack in the name -- but it may also come from wrack as in remnants of wreckage and destruction as in "gone to wrack and ruin." Any etymologists out there that can shed some light on this?

Oh and for west coast readers who are shrieking in horror at the sight of Spartina grass -- the ecology of East Coast beaches is very different from yours in the west. Spartina grasses are an essential part of the salt marsh ecosystem. Spartina alterniflora and Spartina patens are valuable to the organisms that live in the marshes. We freak out about Phragmites australis and about purple loosestrife out here, but we are emphatically pro-Spartina.

So, the beach. Basically you've got the intertidal zone, the wrack line, the dry part of the beach, the dunes, the inter-dune area, the next set of dunes, the salt marsh, and trees. I'm not giving these parts their right names and not really dividing them into the official "zones" either. I should draw a diagram showing that sometime.

Two beach rants in one day and I'm not even at the beach. I must have beach on the brain. That's like water on the brain on much sandier.
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