Cumberland Island in December

The fat seagulls line up where the sand is soft to wait for an easy meal along the water.

The smallest of the sand pipers skitter about seemingly randomly like tailless mice with long legs.

The hikers with their backpacks and hats lumber past me. They probably think I’m European, lying here, fat and happy, in a bikini in December.

I think about the older white gentleman who sat next to me on the park bench as we waited for our ferry to depart. He cleverly asked me if I’d been to the island before, and I said yes. He was setting me up. So then he asked if he would need bug spray today. I said I didn’t know; it depends on the day. He waved his arms frantically, grumbling that there were gnats on him. So I took pity on him and gave him my bug spray, just as the park ranger told the group to step away to use bug spray — to be respectful of the others nearby. So of course he sprayed anyway, attracting the attention of the crowd, putting me in the spotlight. But he was oblivious. The gnats! Then he name dropped that he was from Amelia Island. I gave him the slip — once he returned the bug spray.

Back on the beach, a horsefly as large as a malted milk ball comes by for a visit. She lands on my bag. But I am lucky today and she flies away. Maybe the tiger on my towel scared her off.

The wind and the sun take turns cooling and heating the beach. The sun dominated until the clouds invaded. It may be time to dress and walk about now. As I dress, the clouds part, and the sun kisses me. Is that a good-bye or is it a promise of more?

One time when I was here, a pack of horses walked past me on the trail towards the beach. They ignored me, walking past in a parade. I wondered why horses would make a trek to the beach like that. I think I figured it out this time. Just as the boardwalk ended, there was a pile of horse dung, and then another and then another and another. I think they come to the beach to defecate. It’s their privy.

The dung changes the sand to soil. Useless minerals of sand combined with an offensive bacterial soup of dung are a strange couple, but they are also a recipe for life.

The sea breeze dissipated the clouds and the warmth of the sun made me stop in my tracks on the boardwalk. I crave its healing light. My sunshine bank account isn’t yet full, and I will be in winter soon. So I park myself. Another group of REI hikers pass by, and the woman in the lead says, “You look so elegant.” I look up and see that she is talking to me. How kind. A gift for a random old lady writing poetry on the beach, who rarely hears this anymore. “Thank you dear soul!”

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High school teacher, Kitchen Chemist, Mother, Explorer, Intellectual novelty seeker, Feminist

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Stacy Brasfield

Stacy Brasfield

High school teacher, Kitchen Chemist, Mother, Explorer, Intellectual novelty seeker, Feminist

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