September 1. Summer is so over. Labor Day is just the burial. For the last couple of weeks I have been at the beach in Stone Harbor, N.J. which is just across the Delaware Bay from Bethany Beach, where my family used to go until I was ten or so. It's just an hour or so as the crow flies. Maybe less.
I remember that going into the ocean when I was young meant I would probably step on a crab and get my toe pinched. I was pretty skittish about it all. Everytime I relaxed my vigilance some crab came calling. Going into the water also meant that when I squished my feet into the wet sand as the waves lapped at my knees I could feel little things moving around underneath, tickling my toes. The ocean was teaming with life. That's probably why I have always preferred walking in the sand of the creature-free shallow waters of Lake Michigan, save for the harmless schools of minnows/baby perch and those years we had gajillions of dead alewives on our shores.
But this year, able to walk and wade like a normal person in the ocean again with my new hips, I realized that there aren't many signs of life around the beach anymore. No baby crabs running back into the waves, nothing to step on or nip at your toes. No little schools of fish swimming around. Just the murky greenish water. I remember a few years ago there was a rash of jellyfish to dodge, but that may have been tied to their breeding patterns and the moon. And the vagaries of growing pollution. Now for the most part, there's just nothing. It happened in a nano second.
Be careful what you wish for.