I notice the small stuff; little bugs in big battles, butterflies quarrelling with hummingbirds over nectar- stuff. Life is crammed with little discoveries that ignite my curiosity. And sometimes Nature will burp up bigger finds.
We took Bryn to a dog-friendly, in-town beach on this cold, foggy winter afternoon, noting that there was more park grass exposed by the shrinking snow that we’d seen in a month. The wide, sandy beach was devoid of people: a light, cold rain had seen to that. Slate gray water lapped the beach halfheartedly; the wind was light. We’d brought her here because the dog parks were sheets of jagged ice dotted with thin, half-frozen ponds that cracked when dogs tried to run over it. Canine ankles were painfully scratched by icy, sharp edges, which certainly discouraged exercise.
Joe found a decent sized stick and tossed it far down the honey sand. Bryn, desperate to run, charged after it joyfully—then skidded to a stop half way there. Her neck stretched toward the water; her nose busily sampled the damp air. We looked too- saw nothing unusual, save for one very large white bird far off shore. She continued to stare, then waded out a foot to investigate something quite big and formless moving languidly under water, with only the tip floating, She tried to tug it closer. Way too heavy.
We moved toward it. How odd. Here was big, patterned comforter that, even submerged, had that touch of class. It was thick, well stitched, and was probably lovely, once.
“Joe, grab that far edge; Let’s try to pull it to shore. I want to get a better look.”
Wooo. Much easier said than done. It was utterly saturated, with sand in every crease, and incredibly heavy. But after much huffing and puffing we managed to get half of it onto the sand. Lake bottom sand clung thickly to its surface, doubling the weight.
This large cover had traveled a long way, I thought. It just had that look. Maybe it had ascended from the depths, helped by vigorous lake currents, high winds and waves. Now, finally, it had managed to (almost) reach this beach.
There were just about three feet to go.
Might it have fallen (blown) off a big boat?
I saw a large square white tag sewn to a corner. Croccill! Oh! I love classically patterned Croccill bedding and curtains. Huh. This definitely had a respectable pedigree. The design- multicolored flowers set into wide burgundy stripes offset by cream, with a soft gold back and thick piping- if cleaned up, could be grand.
And what story might it tell?
In the background Joe nervously shifted his feet. He knew what I was mulling over. I wanted it.
He examined it carefully. “Look. Clean cuts, about two inches long, here- and here, self-mended by sand and swollen fabric so that they’re barely visible...” I peered. They were all but invisible. I never would have spotted them.
A propeller, perhaps? A knife? What?
With a huge effort we got it all the way out. I shooed helpful Bryn away; her teeth might wreak it. Joe sighed and muttered that it had probably been used and then discarded by some homeless person, or by campers, or had fallen from a yacht ages ago. Ignoring his exasperated grousing about rubbish, I suggested we fold it over onto itself, and then again, and then walk on top of the ‘tube’ to squeeze water out. Wow! The lake gushed out in great gouts, further reducing its enormous weight. Even so, we struggled mightily to pull it farther onto drier sand, where I tried to rid it of tons of soggy sand clinging to every thread-y millimeter. Still, it was far too heavy to try to shake. We could barely lift it. Joe rolled his eyes when I suggested we refold it for another foot-stomping session, but he was a good sport.
Hooray! More water abandoned ship. Now it was just barely possible for the two of us to drag it, groaning and panting, to the park bench over 50 feet from the water. ”Our backs could go out- this is nuts!” squawked the peanut galley. I ignored this.
We eventually managed to drape the thing over the bench’s back, allowing one end to hang down to the cement, for even more drainage. Drier, the sand would eventually drop off, grain by grain.
Then we’d see.
Only then did I realize that this big, monstrously heavy comforter could not be put into the van. It would break us. Not to mention soak its nice carpet. Water and sand would wick everywhere. (That van is the apple of Joe’s eye.) It would have to stay here, like this, I mused out loud, to drain dry enough that we could shake it, then take it tomorrow. (Out of the corner of my eye I saw him go limp with relief. Oh, thank God!)
We’d come back first thing in the morning to reassess, I declared, cheering up.
By then I’d have figured out a transport solution!
So. It’s tomorrow.
We tossed a decent tarp into the van and motored off to the beach at 7 a.m. And there it was, exactly as we’d left it. A bit lighter, too.
We managed to load it onto the tarp, dragged it the rest of the way and heaved the lot into the van. Home again, we spread it out on a tabletop in our dry garage. I’ll wait a week. Then see if it’s salvageable.
During my lifetime, Lake Michigan has occasionally coughed up stuff- a metal-clamped wad of big bills, an 18-carat gold ring (18 carat gold is 75% pure gold, 25% other so-so metals); a set of new tennis shoes neatly tied together; an old fashioned porcelain doll with shredded clothing, whose lashless eyes could still open and shut; a soft, pale blue angora pullover sweater that I dried, dry-cleaned and wore to death. (Yeah, I was literally wrapped in mystery, for years. And only I knew! Which was part of the fun.)
Everything has a story. I’ve spent many a night conjuring possible ‘what happened’ scenarios that might explain intriguing bits of flotsam.
PS: Joe, after downing a mug of coffee he said, cheerily, “Let’s buy a metal detector, Dee! Heaven knows we have enough beach real estate around here to poke around with it.” He showed me a fine site. We researched what model would fit our needs and, by golly, bought one.
Yay!!! Another new hobby is born! We’re in the snoop ‘n scoop business!