Nature’s Truths

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Sand reclaims steps to the beach

Last spring the beach underwent an intensive, and extensive, beach renewal program.  For months a huge barge floated offshore piping sand collected from the ocean bed onto the beach.  A herd of bulldozers carved massive pools in the beaches into which the sand was pumped out of massive black pipes.  Dark brown ocean sand blew high into the sky out of the wide open mouths.  That sand mixed with sea water filled the holes and seabirds swirled overhead, stood in streams and audaciously plucked stunned blood worms and mollusks and fishes out of the fray, screaming with delight.  It was carnage. 

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Sand, dollar weed and fence

This is common practice along shorelines.  It’s not just here.  Man wants to build as close to the ocean as possible.  However, doing so they threaten the very environment within which they want to live.  They threaten their own homes, their own businesses.  Dunes and sea oats and dollarweed and a gazillion native beach plants are there for a reason.  They protect.  And, even with them Nature will not be denied.  Beaches change naturally.  Ebb and flow.  Nature reclaims its Sacred Space.

ImageBuild your houses if you wish and plan grand steps to take you to the beach, but this is what happens.  It’s inevitable.  The beach was “renourished” less than a year ago to the tune of over 5 million dollars and already that sand is gone.  It’s gone.  Only now are the shells beginning to return and the beach has returned to the shape we found it in when we moved here – undulating and steeper.  That’s the way it wants to be. 

ImageLast spring, after the barges and pipes and bulldozers finally left the beach I went to the beach to sit, to walk, to experience what they’d done.  The beach had easily tripled in depth and was flatter, sloping nicely out into the sea.  The disconcerting part to me was the knowledge that I was sitting on Sacred Ground.  The smell was that of decomposing sea creatures, and that odor lasted for weeks.  As the unrelenting ocean waves began tearing into the new sand I found during my morning walks the shells of lightning whelks, channel whelks, moon snails, lettered olives – shells that were thick enough to survive the trauma of being sucked off the ocean floor, rushed through thousands of feet of piping and thrown into the air.  The creatures within them were not so lucky.

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Unnatural cliffs of sand gradually eroding, going back to the sea

As the beach recovers the district is already planning the next renourishment.  Apparently, this is done every 3 years, give or take.  I am not looking forward to it. 

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22 comments

  1. How remarkably sad, short-sighted, and insane. Press too close, demand too many alterations to suit oneself, and result is that you love the object of your affection to death.

  2. I’m amazed at so many foolish places that people build houses, that nature will erode. Probably every community in the U.S. in Canada has a “riverside heights” – and eventually in time, sure enough they flood. Why… because they are on a flood plain!!

    In regards to this post, I had no idea of this short sighted practice. If I remember scriptures, isn’t there a parable about the foolishness of building on sand? I don’t mean to offend anyone, especially during Christian holy week. I’m just sayin…. Great post Debi.

    1. Like minds, Bruce. We don’t live on the beach but well back across the street, in the maritime forest. I prefer it. Like you, I’ve seen this practice in many places, many environments. And you’re right – It’s not just at the beach that developers are foolish and people buy without thinking about their footprint. I was not familiar with this practice at all until it began the year after we arrived. I was stunned and disgusted, but it is what it is. It happens everywhere. This state, other states with an ocean or gulf as one border, and many cities that are affected by Coastal Nature have nourishment in their budgets. In. Their. Budgets. Who knew? Residents are taxed accordingly. It’s insane. ….not that it bothers me much, Ha!

    1. It is kind of a downer, eh? I’d not thought about the renourishment until this recent walk where I witnessed all these stairs being covered by sands and the obvious erosion. Made me think, then blog!

    1. Thanks! I shot the entire process and it has been suggested I work up some for an exhibit or major blog or something. It was fascinating in its way, but I hated the carnage and of course in the end it was futile. Yet they’ll do it again likely next year. Crazy.

  3. Yes…we watch the sea take her sand…and then she gives it back in a beautiful dance of give and take…balance. Man steps in and believes he can make a difference…how silly. Hurricane Sandy was 450 miles off the coast of South Florida in the fall of 2012 and her surf completely breached the sea wall of an entire town!! Mother Nature …so powerful.

    1. Yet more truth, Lorrie. Various communities north of here are already piping in more sand. Resistance is futile….didn’t we learn anything from the Borg? Anyway, thanks for your thoughtful comment – I really appreciate it.

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