June 19, 2011

Day of Attempts

Granddaddy and Lynne departed Homagin this morning, leaving me to my own devices. I'm islanding for a few days, recovering from the considerable exhaustion and excitement born of my recently completed trip to Tennessee for Bonnaroo. Bonnaroo consists of a multi-stage, 80,000 person music festival on a large piece of farmland in Manchester. I went with my long-standing California traveling companions, Hannah and Alex (of the cross-country trip that delivered me to this fair coast in summer of 2009) and we deigned to camp in the inconceivably huge, hot Tent City for four days. It stayed in the 90s for the duration, driving me to drink gallons of water, buy a cowboy hat, throw myself fully clothed beneath a huge mushroom fountain, forego proper showering for four days, and strip down to my bra in public. The music was amazing, the experience memorable, and the survival of it a matter of some pride.

Anyway, after returning to DC for a few days, I needed a break from the masses, be they half-naked hippie-hula-hooping Rooers or Blackberry-toting suit-wearing DC dwellers. The island seemed ideal for this purpose. Today I elected to be incredibly lazy (which is really very easy on Sundays in Mathews, as almost everything is closed), make a ridiculously elaborate meal, and spend time outside. Homesick Texan's Sour Cream Enchiladas were the pick, and I scurried off to Food Lion in search of corn tortillas. Sadly, corn tortillas were not to be had at either Food Lion or Best Value, and I could not in good conscience justify driving to the next county just to go to the Walmart Supercenter just to buy twelve corn tortillas. My rampant perfectionism somewhat frustrated, I bought flour tortillas, in what turned out some two hours later to be a fine substitute.

After dinner I decided I was going to take a swim in the Bay, despite witnessing several stinging nettle stings the day before (though no nettles, oddly). I am rather wary of stinging nettles, even after having been recently stung. Arriving at the beach, I found myself a bit timid. Standing waist deep in the decidedly opaque water, I couldn't help but be a bit nervous about the whole endeavor, especially given that I was alone and should I be dragged under by some kind of huge jellyfish monster there would be no one to report on it. Finally, it was the sight of the shark-like wing tips of a school of cownose rays (or skates, as they are referred to locally) some twenty feet offshore that drove me from the water. I have heard that rays are friendly unless stepped on, but again, alone, I wasn't so keen on testing that theory.

I returned home and climbed into the one person kayak, determined to get a closer look. A large school of rays has returned to Milford Haven this summer and tends to arrive in the water in front of the house right before sunset. I didn't see any wingtips breaking the smooth surface, but I clamored into my bright red vessel and made my way slowly up the shore towards Hole in the Wall, eyes trained to the water. No sign of cownose rays--not even a ripple. I lay back in the kayak with my legs inelegantly thrown over the hull and drifted, watching for rays but only seeing the occasional nose tip of a terrapin emerge from the shallow waves. Right around the time I was ready to give up, a looked up and noticed that the current had delivered me to the water beside the dock my as-of-yet unseen/unmet neighbors' new house, and a troop of rather oafish twenty-something boys were headed up the dock in my direction. I threw an embarrassing wave in their direction and took off. Ten minutes later, pulling up to the stairs in front of Homagin, I looked to the sunset and saw, in the water just off my own dock, a cownose ray's wingtips breaking the surface.