I went to West Meadow Beach today for a beach clean up.
The day was gray and damp, rain splattering down onto the sand, leaving it pocked and patterned. The rocks on the shore gleamed like pearls. At this beach, the smooth stones all seemed translucent and bright: a garden of tumbled quartz, rose and white and peach and lavender. The occasional white seagull floated on the gray water, arching its wings and squawking.
We scrutinized the tangled beds of blond reeds washed up on the sand and stone. We stooped and selected the things that didn't fit: inorganic-looking rods (discarded straws), strands too brightly colored to belong (escaped plastic ribbons, curled), bottle caps blue and red, the corpse of a tin can, frazzled and frayed rope. The shriveled skeleton of a popped balloon. With chilled fingers, we teased these artifacts out of the reeds, collecting them in a huge dark sack. The black bag flapped in the ocean breeze and dragged on its belly across the lovely-hued stones.
Beside us, the waves murmured. Overhead, the sky continued to cry, as we crept along the shore, discovering and discriminating. Each moment was like one of the shore's sleek stones, and every stone was like a jewel, and I wanted to take them all home.