2019 Life Logs, Day 246: Sand in My Shoes on First Day of School
Date: Tuesday, September 3, 2019
Weather: Sunny; High 83, Low 62 degrees F
Location: At Home in the Cottage, East Falmouth, MA
It was the first day of school for the Goldpebbles. It is really hard for me to believe that Sam is in seventh grade this year. Jonah is in fifth grade and little Ollie is growing like a weed and is in second grade, not so little any more.
When Mark and I ‘landed’ here on the Cape in 2011, Jonah and Sam were both in preschool and Ollie was still to come. On the first day of preschool that year, Mark and I picked Sam and Jonah up at the end of the day. I just took a trip down memory lane by looking at the photos of that event. My, how these grandkids grow up so quickly! I didn’t see them today, but Heather took photos that she shared on Facebook. Thank you, Heather.
Now to the sand in my shoes today. I got up with absolutely nothing on my calendar. I decided that I wanted to spend some time at the beach, take a long walk, and enjoy the sunshine. Then I realized that I could do all of those things by driving to the Outer Cape to see the gray seals at High Head Beach in North Truro . . . a field trip for the first day of school. When Heather, Jed, and the boys told me about their trip to High Head Beach this past weekend, I knew I just had to go there. So today was the day. It is about an hour and a half drive and then a 15 to 20 minute walk through deep sand and up and over a dune to get there. But it was certainly worth it. What I saw was a beautiful beach with what I would estimate to be more than a hundred gray seals frolicking in the water. From a distance they just look like black rocks in the water. Some were far in the distance and some were just off the beach where I arrived . . . a greeting committee. Since I have never seen gray seals before, I just sat in the sand and watched them for over an hour. Sam had told me that they have HUGE nostrils and he was certainly right about that. Their heads are elongated and they appear to love just sticking their noses straight up for long periods of time. A few times it looked like a couple were in a little battle with their heads while looking towards the sky. Seagulls lined the tide line to watch while little sanderlings skittered about. Just glorious. On the walk back to my car, I took the time to look at the dune flora. There was a ground cover with red berries that I was not familiar with, but when I got home I looked it up and found it to be bearberry (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi). Evidently it has small whitish-pink urn-shaped flowers in April and May and red berries that appear in August and last through the winter. There was also a lot of sweet goldenrod (Solidago odora), but what I found out when I looked it up tonight is that it is not the same as ragweed, which is the popular belief. Evidently, sweet goldenrod does not cause seasonal allergies and if you crush the leaves, they smell like licorice. Who knew? Certainly not me. But that’s why you go on field trips and do research afterwards. I also learned a lot about gray seals this evening. Grey seals (Calidris alba), spelled ‘gray’ in the United States, live on both shores of the North Atlantic. They are known as horsehead seals due to the shape of their heads and are commonly referred to as “true seals” or “earless seals” as they do not have external ear flaps. Average females are about seven and a half feet long and weigh about 550 pounds, while males on average are ten feet long and weigh about 880 pounds. I also read that at low tide, the gray seals at High Head Beach sometimes come up on the beach to lounge around. I will definitely be returning at low tide to see the seals on the beach and to enjoy getting more sand in my shoes.
One more tidbit, this time about Hurricane Dorian and President Trump. When I got home, I turned on the television to get an update on Hurricane Dorian. Thankfully it has moved on from the Bahamas and it looks like it will skim the US coast, maybe making landfall in the Carolinas. Hurricanes are never good news, but then this was the best case scenario projected and hopefully it veers off and doesn’t make landfall at all. The devastation in the northern Bahamas is heart-breaking with information from Grand Bahama Island still to come. But in listening to this update, I also saw a video clip of President Trump giving a hurricane press conference this weekend. I couldn’t believe what I heard him say. “A Category 5 is something that I don’t know that I’ve even heard the term . . . ” Really? Well, Mr. President. Katrina and Maria would be two very devastating Category 5 hurricanes that hit the United States mainland or a US territory and most Americans know that. Plus, there have been seven Category 5 hurricanes since you have been President. How sad that you don’t know this very basic information.