Willows Beach. One thirty in the afternoon. Sunny, beautiful day.
It's the first day of school; the scattering of kids on the beach, on the grass racqueting back and forth a tennis ball and badminton bird, in the Tea Room snacking, are all in clothes, not bathing suits, so it must have been a half-day of classroom.
No one is swimming. A young woman in a yellow bikini (maybe a teacher) approaches the water with deliberation; one toe touches the water and she polar-bear-steps into ankle depth, trots a small circle or two and comes back out of the water with her mouth in a perfect O.
Mt. Baker is on view; a green boat (Chinese junk comes to mind) sits at ease between the mountain and me. Other little boats putter around.
"There's a little bit of snow on it," I hear one woman say to another which causes me to look more carefully at the mountain. I think that's a lot of snow. Sort of like a Jon Gnagy sketch with contrast shading.
A seagull sits on the garbage container where someone has left a plate of French fries and it is chowing them down. Three crows are on its outskirts eyeing the rapidly disappearing treat. Suddenly one crow hops up behind the large white bird and grabs the tail feathers in its black beak. Seagull pulls away but it is a minor disturbance which does not stop it from eating.
I have a take-out from the White Heather Tea Room: a cheese sconewich with cream cheese, roasted red pepper, tomato, artichoke, mushroom; cream of cauliflower soup; a salad of beyond-iceberg mixed greens. The food is excellent and there is a doily in the take out container and a large napkin. Splendid picnic.
For dessert an ice cream bar from the Oak Bay Kiwanis Tea Room at Willows Beach; this never fails to remind me of the parts of New Hampshire and Vermont that are on the ocean 'back east'.
A bronzed older man in shorts and hat looks like a permanent fixture on a bench in the sun: some people express ease so magnificently. The silver hair on his torso and arms looks like silver lichen on a brown tree trunk.
I am too cool in the shade, too hot in the sun. A partially shaded bench solves the problem.
Kids are tossing gravel up the metal slide and the rocks are making a merry, satisfying sound as they tumble back down.
Finally it occurs to some kid (as it occurred to 'this kid' ages ago) to cart a bunch of gravel to the top of the curved slide and launch it from there. The sound turns into enthusiastic noise.
The ocean is calm with small ripples rolling into waves on the shore.
Kids have started to toss sandballs at sandcastles; friendly aggression that stays friendly: adult supervision.
A crow lands beside me on the garbage container and tries to pull something through the inch diameter hole in the top. I open it for the bird but it is spring loaded and will not stay open.
As I am doing this he (in an instant he acquired a gender - something to do with his character) flew to a table where there was a loaf of bread unattended: the couple were moving their things to a sunnier table and he (crow) got in three good pokes and pries and gobbles before he (man) saw and came racing back to shoo bird away. I tried to look innocent for not shoo'ing first.
A bearded man on a bicycle stops and perches on a bench. He has on a bright red motorcycle helmet, shiny red formal jacket and bell bottom pants.
Another woman walks into the ocean; she keeps her sandals on. Hers is also a ten second dip.
Elderly couples promenade along the (cement) boardwalk, many holding hands.
Seagulls screech. The slide 'slides' pebbles. A child laughs.
A very pregnant woman in a bathing suit some distance along the beach gives a fascinating body profile and reminds me that my niece is overdo with baby number three and if he or she has not made an appearance by today the plan is to move things along. Time to head toward home and the telephone.