The calm before the storm...


Sure doesn’t look like a Category Four hurricane is headed directly toward us, does it? And yet…. as with any good story, you just don’t know what’s going to happen before it does, even though the clues and warning signs and tingle on the back of your neck tell you that — something — is getting ready to hit. As John Irving put it: “Beware of the undertoad.”

I noticed on the way to the beach that some of the Mom and Pop motels have No Vacancy signs up, even though traffic, cars and people are pretty sparse. Do the old-timers know something that NOAA doesn’t? Are they getting ready to head off-island for the storm? The bridge closes when winds hit 40 mph, and category 4 winds fly at, oh good lord, 133 to 155 mph.

But the beach itself was calm, beautiful, soothing. Polly swam; I walked.

And, of course, talked. There aren’t that many folks on the beach at 8 AM, and I try to talk with all of them — whether they want to or not. Hey, it’s called research, people.

So here are a couple of exchanges from yesterday and today. Any one of these threads could go somewhere, really, if someone were interested:

Yesterday morning there was only one other person on the beach. He was just a speck far ahead of me, and every so often he stopped to light a cigarette, an acquired skill set in salt spray and wind. When he turned and headed back toward the parking lot, he stopped to pet Polly.

“Be careful up ahead. Someone busted a beer bottle and left the broken end pointed up. I buried it as best I could.” He shook his head. “Some people.” His hair was longer than mine and it blew across his face.

“Yeah, some people are kinda weird.”

He looked at me maybe a second too long and said, “You got that right. Weird. Really weird.” Then we both walked on.

He looked oddly familiar to me, but it wasn’t until a couple of minutes later that I put it together.

Charles Manson. The guy looked just like Charles Manson, only no beard. It was the eyes.

Later I found the broken bottle in the sand. He hadn’t done such a great job covering it up after all.

**
This morning I saw a guy walking four shih tzu’s. Our shih tzu died in January so of course I had to talk to him and pet the dogs, who were panting in the heat. The four dogs all dug a collective hole in the sand while we were talking and climbed in to get cool. He told me that the first time he saw them do that at the beach, he turned part of his yard into a big sand pit for the dogs. And they love it. But I can’t help wondering — how do the neighbors feel about looking out their window and seeing a big sand pit next door? Filled with little dogs?

He also said he’d worked with a lot of the local dog rescues but eventually stopped because they were “too political.”

Now he works exclusively with cat rescue. I’m still wrestling with this one. I’m a cat person, too, but I’m trying to figure out why dogs would be political and cats not? Maybe I should talk with the Superior Court Judge candidate about politics?

**
A middle aged couple and a younger man, probably their son, had just set up chairs and fishing gear when I walked by. They were from away, were here for a week, and worried that they might have to evacuate before the storm hit. The young man and Polly hit it off great while I talked with the older man about weather possibilities.

About a half hour later we walked back past them. This time I noticed that the young man had considerable physical limitations and a bunch of adaptive and walking aids. I asked if they’d caught any fish yet, and the older man nodded and said that the young man had caught one, a small fish.

It took the young man a good 30 seconds to raise both hands, spread them apart about 6 inches, and say, barely audibly, “This big.”

The grin across his face was just as big when he said it.

Made. My. Day.

10 comments to The calm before the storm…

  • Sounds like a wonderful couple of days at the beach! Who would have known what stories people have to tell… maybe not even them!

    thanks for sharing!

    • Natasha

      Thanks for stopping by! I find I get SO MUCH from talking to people and what better place to do it than on the beach. And I’m lucky enough to live here full-time. (Well, today I feel lucky to live at the beach — come Friday and Hurricane Earl, who knows….)

  • I truly enjoyed this. You never know what you’re going to hear when you interact with other people. I have the opportunity to do that at the dental office where I work. I’d much rather chat on the beach but ya gotta do what ya gotta do.

    Take care with the storm coming.

    • Natasha

      Thanks, Shaddy. I’ll bet you get to hear some stories at work, especially getting to know people over the years.

      Yup, we are batting down the hatches here, I guess…

  • First, I hope Earl is not found of squirrels and stays far away! Second, these were great peaks into the lives of those unsuspecting research subjects you met on the beach. šŸ™‚ I just love to hear these stories.

    The community in your area has a particular sense of calm about it. Such a dramatic difference from where I live.

    • Natasha

      I just went to the grocery store and I was sort of hoping I’d see people fighting over the last roll of toilet paper or Wonder bread or something like that — as seen on TV. Alas, they were all being perfectly normal, at least on the outside. May have to give it another day until the ozone level picks up with the impending storm.

      Thanks for remembering Earl and the squirrels, BTW. šŸ™‚

  • The Charles Manson guy sounded positively spooky! Hopefully you don’t see too many like him on your walks. I hope ole’ Earl glides right by you WAYYYY out as sea and leaves your peaceful beach alone!

    • Natasha

      Thanks. I hope so too! This guy was probably perfectly harmless. In my experience, the ones you have to watch out for are the ones who seem perfectly normal, the ones who may be lurking in your very neighborhood.

  • So…are you still there or did you evacuate? I hope you’re safe and dry somewhere…
    I’ve been looking at all the faces on the news expecting to see you, thinking, of course Natasha will be on the news, it’s North Carolina and she lives there. As if you’re the only one who lives there. šŸ™‚ Then I have to do a mental head smack.

    I love your beach pictures. They’re so different from mine, no huge rocks poking out of the ocean. šŸ™‚

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