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Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Bottoms in Pits and Bolts from Above

Bottoms in Pits and Bolts from Above
By Mike Lauterborn
© 2010. All Rights Reserved.

Post Memorial Day Weekend, Penfield Beach, Fairfield. The debris and bric-a-brac from frolicking families has been tractored away and trash cans and recycling bins emptied of their contents. Still, I watch as a black bird hops from trash vessel to trash vessel hunting for scraps.

The air is quite heavy and humid, foretelling a forecasted thunderstorm. For now, the skies are cloudless and blue. There are only a handful of sunbathers here today… a black-haired single woman in a bright yellow bikini, browning herself. An English woman with leathery skin who may hold the record for never having missed a beach day. A mom with a couple of elementary schoolers.

Off to the right of a tall, pilotless lifeguard chair, with “Keep Off” sprayed on it in red stenciled letters, is a happy trio. The lead of the triad is a young woman with crystal blue eyes and black hair tied back in a ponytail. Her light blue bikini loosely covers her female bits, but only just barely hides a small tattoo just below her bikini line on one hip. She, too, is evenly browned, apparently having enjoyed the sun (or a tanning bed) consistently.

“Kay” is a nanny and in her charge are two children, Clara, a curly-topped tot in a pink polka-dotted one piece, and Jack, a busy lad of 4 ½. Kay is a Norwalk Community College student and working towards a degree in Child Care --- appropriately enough. She has supervised these children for two years now.

“Where is everyone?” I ask, setting up my low-sitting, colorfully striped beach chair. Kay shrugs and smiles. At first, I’m not sure if she speaks English, but then she responds to a question about the kids.

“Hi!” says Clara, all of two and toddling over to look at me wide-eyed. She’s still an unmolded piece of clay, unjaded and curious about the world.

“Are you going to go in the water?” asks Jack, taking a break from building what he tells me is a castle at first, then, after more thought, “A Batcave.”

Jack asks where I live and I tell him walking distance from the beach. He says he can walk to his house from the beach, too (Compo Beach in Wesport).

“Hi!” Clara says again, appearing for a moment beside us then taking interest in a shell.

“You want to build something?” asks Jack.

“Let’s dig a hole that you can sit in,” I suggest. He likes this idea, fetches a bright green toy shovel for himself and a light green toy garden hoe for me. We start to dig, with me using my hoe like a crane and effecting crane sounds.

We make good progress and Clara takes interest, coming to stand at the lip of the expanding pit, sending a waterfall of sand into the hole with her toes.

“I’m getting in,” says Jack suddenly, and plops in, clearly thrilled. Kay ambles over at that moment and asks, “Do you want us to bury you?”

“You can put some sand on my belly,” says Jack, compromising. I take a small handful of sand and drop it onto his stomach, making a ptthth sound as I do it. He giggles.

I do it twice more before Kay squats near and, with a sweep of her arm, shifts a pile of sand from the side of the hole into the hole and around Jack’s right side.

“We’re going to bury you then you can go and wash off, ok?” she says.

Jack’s in for the challenge and, together, Kay and I pile the sand around and on top of him. I fill in right around Jack’s shoulders while she covers his middle and legs.

“Do you want your feet covered too?” Kay asks Jack.

“OK,” Jack concedes. Kay leaves all but his toes sticking out. Clara helps as well, contributing a small handful or two of sand.

“OK, now you have to get yourself out,” announces Kay, after snapping a quick photo with her camera phone.

Jack grins as his arms and legs pop out of the sand cast, but he’s not so quick at freeing his middle.

“C’mon, where are those super-human powers?!” jokes Kay. He laughs and tries harder. Then he finally frees himself.

“Sand monster!” I cry as Jack gets to his feet, showing his sandy body.

“OK, go wash off!” Kay tells him, and down to and into the water he goes.

Kay wades in with Clara as well, and I follow suit.

“See any horseshoe crabs?” I say to Jack, looking down into the murky greenish water.

“Uh-uh,” replies Jack. Then, “It’s cold.” Jack retreats up onto the sand, Kay tows Clara, and I follow behind.

Kay notices Jack’s back is a little red. We wonder if it was the roughness of the sand or if he’s gotten a little too much sun. Kay’s maternal instincts kick in. “We should go.”

I suggest Kay just put his shirt on him, which she does but also begins packing up. By this point, the foretold storm clouds have begun creeping in, so perhaps her timing is good anyhow. Still, I’ve enjoyed their company and will miss their interaction.

When they are all set, we say our goodbyes. These continue as they shuffle off across the sand, with the kids waving and calling back “Bye!” and “See you later alligator!”

“In a while crocodile!” I respond, waving back.

As they disappear down a stone stairway behind a seawall to the parking lot beyond, there’s a rumble and single flash and crack of lightning that shoots down from the now-swirling dark gray/blue crowds.

The spike encourages others to pack up and, soon, I do the same, retreating, however, up under the overhang of an adjacent pavilion. My new location at a blue metal picnic table affords a view of Long Island Sound, which had been quite tranquil but is now choppy as the storm kicks up.

The grayness crept up over the pavilion like an ominous force and then the pit, pit, pit of raindrops could be heard spatting on the roof overhead.

I watch the mass move over the ocean and, curiously, around the little lighthouse about a mile off shore. Just a small patch of white sky remains around the beacon, like a halo almost, a safe haven defending itself from this devilish stalker.

I had seen both Mother Nature and human nature at work here today, and looked forward to my next beach excursion.