The Cove Journal by JoDee Samuelson
Hundreds of geese flying overhead, loose and loud, not too concerned about V formations, healthy, independent, on their way here and there, a joy and a miracle, black wings a perfect contrast to white bodies glinting in the sun.
But wait! The hunter’s BANG BANG BANG shatters the air. Oh dear. I hope that the victims will be well respected and appreciated.
The geese congregate on a sandbar down at the Cove to discuss their dilemma: stay here where it’s safe or return to that cornfield? One small grouping after another heads back in the direction of the hunters. Don’t go! we cry. But being a meat eater I must bite my tongue. My father hunted ducks with an old shotgun, and my mother picked over those mallards like a detective to remove all the lead shot. My how we loved that flesh all brown and crispy hot out of the oven.
Seals seals seals on the shoals – we counted sixty—black tails in the air at one end, heads up at the other, snuffling, grunting, shrieking. A heron fishing peacefully on the outskirts of Sealville, oblivious to the commotion, suddenly stabs down with its long lethal beak and comes up with a surprisingly large fish. Heron walks over to a bit of land, puts wiggling fish down and turns it the right way—then down she goes in one gulp. Heron preens a feather or two as if to say “No big deal” before resuming its patient quest.
I sit on a rock near the shore’s edge watching transparent sand shrimp dig themselves into and out of the mucky bottom. A repetitive life but satisfying, I suppose, to a shrimp. Hermit crabs scurry along carrying their heavy borrowed shells. It’s really unclear why they’re in such a hurry but they must know something I don’t know.
A seagull plucks a large starfish out of the water, shakes it, tosses it down. Picks it up, flies to the other end of the sandbar, shakes and drops it again. Some tenderizing process? I never thought of a sharp prickly starfish as being a delicacy on anyone’s menu.
Snow and ice will soon cover this choice piece of shoreline. Meanwhile, life on land and sea is being lived to the fullest.
In our yard a chipmunk fearlessly rushes back and forth, chestnut clamped between its jaws, building up its larder for winter dinners: I believe it would step on my feet if I got in its way! Bluejays flutter round the house, casually curious as to when we plan to set up the bird feeder.
The autumn leaves that turned gold and crimson in one breath now lie spent and weary on the ground, their race run.
And the gulls that were in the front field this afternoon, following the farmer’s harrow, return to the Cove to tiptoe through the tidal pools in search of a bedtime snack.
It’s dark at suppertime. Can I ever get used to these short days? Have to.