Monday, March 17, 2008

How little I know

I know that March is an in-between season on the Outer Banks: caressing warm breezes one moment; moaning wind and black waves the next. I knew that clear starry nights can be colder than hazy ones; that skate eggs look like thick black H's; that a leaning piece of grass will mark a circle in the sand as it sways and whistles in the wind.

But I did not know that harbor seals frequent that coast. I did not know that sometimes they hunch and flop and writhe up onto the sand, and when they do this they are not necessarily injured, but just ... resting. Like we might do if we were encased in six inches of blubber and it was blowing 20 knots.

And I did not know that Animal Control DID know all this, and that they drive an immense Dodge pickup filled not with trank guns as we excitedly hoped, but tupperwared lunches and binoculars and a big piece of plywood and a very large cage.

I also don't know why (what I've learned are) a form of sea cucumber washes up onto the beach and sits there, mostly inert and looking rather like something only a man has. I don't know how pelicans can fly into the wind without flapping, or why bird feet don't get cold, or what burrowing crabs do when the sand freezes and pushes up in tiny crumbled ridges.

Sometimes I feel like what we optimistically call "learning" is really just a slow revealing of everything we don't know. "The untravell'd world, whose margin fades forever and ever as I move."

1 comment:

P said...

Would it be correct to say "tranq" guns, or is that too pretentious.

I find that going to the beach is coming to the Edge. When you rise up over the lip of the dune, burdened with folding chairs and beach bags, and the hush of the waves becomes a full whoosh and salty wind pulls back your hair, you see a horizon and know it extends further than you've ever traveled.

Beach is good, yeah yeah yeah. It's not bad, no no no.