Early Saturday morning, biked down to the landing on an inlet called the Oyster Pond River and walked along the shore, looking out across metallic blue water at the sunlit backside of Stage Harbor Neck and the old, blind lighthouse there, white as an oil painting against the sky. Beach grass on the neck green as bottle glass in some spots, yellow as wheat in others.
High tide, no beach, just a soggy path along the water's edge. Short cliffs off to my left grown over with bayberry, bearberry, beach plum, and beach heather, and lines of Cape Cod roses like red banners hung vertically from the clifftop. Go to take a picture of the some beached rowboats with the roses in the background and scare angrily chirping barn swallows up out of the blossoms.
Little shorebirds working the blackened seaweed along the path ahead of me. Probably sandpipers, but maybe sanderlings. The sun's behind them, they're mostly in silhouette and they won't let me get close enough to get a good look at them, even through my binoculars.
Dory chugs in and out between the boats anchored in the river, paralleling the shore. Older man at the wheel in the open cockpit, sixty if a day, but trim and fit, wearing shorts and a Hawaiian shirt both faded from long wear, and a red baseball cap, even more faded, bill backwards. Steers with one hand on the wheel, his other hand shading his eyes as he scans the shore on this side, watching me as if thinking I might be someone he knows, someone he is expecting to meet along here.
Plover skims the drowned grass at the waterline.
Group of five people arrive at the end of the lane down to the beach where my bike lies in the sand. Hard to say if they're together or if their arriving at the same time is just coincidental. I'm too far up to hear them say anything. But I can't see any interaction as they split into three separate groups---no signs of goodbyes being said or plans to meet up later being made.
Two tall college guys in ballcaps and carrying fishing rods and tackle boxes walk away upriver.
A man around my age in shorts, life vest, and stone colored Australian bush hat, the ties tight under his chin, sets down a black and yellow kayak and sets to work preparing it for a trip out into the river.
The last two members of the group are an elderly couple, past seventy, both of them, he round-shouldered and bent a bit, wearing a sun hat with a wide, floppy brim, she more wiry, taller, but with a bit of a stoop too, hatless, her white hair, toussled, unbrushed this morning, looking stiff in the breeze. She's wearing thin wrap around shades. Together they wade out to a skiff anchored fairly close in to shore and load it with tubs and buckets and a pair of clame rakes. She holds the boat by the gunwale to steady it as he climbs in. He unties the line to the buoy and grabs an oar to pole the boat backwards, bringing it close in, practically beaches it so she can get in. As she does, she pushes off with her leg. She sits on the bench in the stern. He takes the oars.
He rows them straight out into the river, aiming at the neck and the clam beds over there. The blond oars flash gold in the sun after each pull.