What I See, part 2 by Karen Joy Fowler
There is one cove along the cliffs of my morning walk where all the loose seaweed washes up. On one side of the street are million+ dollar homes, homes with an ocean view. On the other and down a flight of stone stairs, a great heap of bugs and rotting seaweed. In the summer you can smell this for blocks. Homes with an ocean smell.
Of course, this is the one beach in town that allows dogs off-leash. My dog (Mojito, commonly known as MJ) and I go there lots. MJ has just turned ten. We used to think that she was a good dog, but when she grew up, settled just a little, she’d be a really great dog. Maybe this is the year that happens. Fingers crossed.
At the top of the stairs, when I unclip the leash we both feel a great leap of spirits. Freedom! She can wander at will. No more being dragged along so fast you can’t stop and smell the piss. Me, too! No more stopping at every tree and fencepost. I can swing my arms.
It’s all spoiled at the bottom of the stairs. I have long ago resigned myself to the fact that we will have to pick our way through mounds of rot to get to the sand. (There is a metaphor there for writing books. The physical world is full of such metaphors. You can’t avoid them. One reason of many why scene is so affective in literature.) Yet I am continually disappointed when MJ decides to drop and roll. Somewhere there is a freedom that does not require an immediate and sullen bath. Someday we’ll find it together, MJ and I.
Another notable feature of the dog beach is a long cement wall. Not a retaining wall, or at least I don’t think so, since it runs perpendicular to the waves. I really can’t guess what it’s there for. But this wall is high enough, maybe four feet, that I sometimes have difficulty scrambling over it.
Here’s the amazing part, though. Sometimes it isn’t there at all. Sometimes the sands have shifted so much you would never know there was wall beneath you. (And see? We’ve hit another metaphor. Pay no attention; just go about your business. It’s more frightened of you than you are of it.)