I’ve no idea how far I walked in the fog today, but long enough that by the time I was back at the parking lot my hair fell wet in ringlets, sticky with salt. The fog had obliterated any landmarks along the beach and it was only my vague sense that hours had passed that caused me to turn back. This was no sunny, invigorating winter beach; it felt neither wide nor expansive. There was no winking promise of spring in the air, either. White-bellied gulls appeared out of the nothingness ahead and the only sound was that of the waves churning the sand.
The edges of things: the shoreline and the horizon were all so soft with the fog that my camera mostly refused to focus. It was pleasant to imagine nothing beyond the couple hundred feet I was able to see ahead of me. Out of the salty haze I finally spotted what I’d come looking for; back for a week or two, a lone piping plover fed along the wrack line at the very limits of my imagination. The harder I tried to see it, the faster it ran and blended into nothingness.
A couple hundred steps ahead and I’d spot it again for an instant, this time running crosswise to me in the dry sand, blending into a driftwood and clam shell background. In and out of my awareness, I think it must have accompanied me quite far, just out of clear view, a bit of fog drifted sand on still winter-black legs. These birds are hard to spot on a clear day even when they’re running; their markings blend so expertly with drift sticks and sand. I like to meet them for the year on this type of day, for whatever reason, when the hot sun and crowds of a June day seem an impossibility.