Seven-thirty. Lighthouse Beach. Clouds low and flat, thin, like spills of gray oatmeal and curdled cream smeared unevenly but widely across the otherwise blue sky. Think by now I'd have learned to read the weather down here. Something about the metallic light---like a fluorescent bulb reflected in very dusty chrome--tells me it's not going to be a beach day unless I hurry back to the house and drag the gang from their beds and down here for a swim right away.
Walked out to the two large, pond-sized tidal pools that lie far back in from the shoreline. Looking for shorebirds. Took the inland route which is the most direct and so avoided the cool air at the ocean's edge. Back here there's not much of a breeze, hardly any that registers on the skin at any rate, although a low, hollow sound going in and out of the old shell-likes tells me it's there.
The muddy flats along the smaller and nearer of the pools are empty of birds but not of their traces. Footprints of gulls, small waders, crows. Footprints of non-avian species too. A dog. A small, scampering, barefoot, human, and a large, galumphing human wearing brand-new hikers.
Settling down with the binoculars and my coffee on the edge of the larger pool. Twist my cup into the sand where I'll leave it to go cold before I remember to take another sip. Air here is fresher but can't hear the breeze. Drowned out by the sound of the surf out of sight but insistently noisy as it breaks on the beach just beyond the rise of the foredune.
A plover over to my left. Semipalmated variety. Three other waders picking through the mud together. Dowitcher. Sanderling. Piping plover. And across the pool five Herring Gulls, unusually quiet, inactive, listless-looking, depressed-looking birds, as if crushed by the existential boredom of being themselves and they would gladly trade places with any other sort of bird.