Wednesday, July 8, 2009

lost and found

Last weekend, D and I took part in MEC's paddlefest at Jericho Sailing Centre, where we learned and practiced our paddling technique and practiced some rescue techniques, whereby we'd flip our kayaks, unattach our spray skirts whilst our underwater, and pop to the surface of the water, in a time span that seemed like one second. I wore a hat through most of the day, but realized that the flipping might cause my hat to float away. I threw my hat into the cockpit of the kayak and forgot about it. That is, until I tipped the kayak over to empty it of its water and the heavier-than-seawater hat.

This was no ordinary hat. It is the first and only hat that I've ever purchased. I bought it as an almost-souvenir at Eatons, one of Canada's iconic large department stores, as it held a closing-out sale many years ago. The hat doesn't even fit that well, but it has served me well through many hiking and camping trips.

So when I lost it, my heart sank. I hate losing things in general, but this was one time I felt there was a good chance of recovery. I made a plan the next day to return to Jericho beach during the low 0.8metre tide. Our kayaking was during high tide, so there was a good chance that even if the hat sunk to the bottom, I'd be able to walk out to it. Plus it gave me a good chance to do a bit of beach combing.

On this slightly drizzly weekday morning, the beach was void of any human activity. Gulls quietly turned over shells to look for the odd clam that hadn't returned into the sand in time. Beds of mussels lay in wait for the tide to return. Starfish abandoned by the low tide and disoriented on the sandy part of the beach struggled to find their bearings.

A Great Blue Heron looking for some shoreline morsels

A green anemone showing off it's glowing tentacles

On this quiet, cloudy morning, I saw many examples of life eking out an existance on a beach that would be, on a welcoming sunny weekend, filled with the cacaphony of humankind.

These clam shells littered the beach. When I was eight, they served us these clams in miso soup in Japan. Around that same time, these same clams were inadvertently introduced to BC waters in ballast water, water routinely flushed out by ships to aid in balancing their loads.

Yet I did not find that which should be properly on my head while I walked the length of the waterline.

I decided to return by way of the high tide line where the hat could've joined the disattached seaweed other flotsam. It was there that I noticed articles of clothing that were placed on or around the beach logs. Ahh, the makeshift lost and found section! And soon enough, I found my hat, wet and covered with sand, by waiting patiently for me to find it.

I quietly thanked the beachcomber who must've brought it up to the log to dry. My heart smiled as I collected it to rinse it off in a tide pool.

My day was starting off exceptionally well. I found my hat. The beach life continued what it has done for millenia, siphoning, filtering, sifting, hunting. Peacefully. Until I peered upwards to see this bald eagle being chased out of the neighbourhood by resident crows.


Konrad said...

so relieving! someone collected articles of clothing and laid them out?

Tim said...

Whether it was someone who routinely combs the beach, or someone caring enough to take it out of the sand and place it where someone would find it, I'll never know.