Sunday, May 1, 2011

How Women Deal With Trespassers

"He" was a tough character!
This morning  I spotted this character standing all by himself by the edge of the pool.  I was pretty sure he wasn’t an owner or renter, nor for that matter, was he a guest.  I was also pretty sure that he hadn’t taken a shower before entering the area as required by condo rules.  Stepping out on the balcony, I affixed the trespasser with my best “indignant owner” stare, and said “excuse me sir, but what unit are staying in?”  The trespasser didn’t answer but instead looked back at me with one beady eye that seemed to say, “I’m here looking at your swimming pool.  You got a problem with that?”

After exchanging stares with this unpleasant creature for a minute or two, I decided to wait him out and see what he would do next.  I didn’t have to wait long.  Just as I settled down with my morning coffee and paper I heard a splash and when I looked out the window, he was swimming in our pool!  Not only was he swimming, he was doing laps, back and forth from one end of the pool to the other; all the time paying no attention to me.  Talk about nerve!  Finally he hopped out of the pool and began drying himself off; taking his own sweet time in the process.  That’s when it dawned on me that he hadn’t come here to swim at all; he had come to take a bath.  That did it!  No more Mister Nice Guy!

It was all about bathing---nothing else.
Pulling out my trusty cell phone, I called the Gulf Stream police, using the number that was conveniently programmed as a quick dial number.  The dispatcher was sympathetic, but claimed that the whole matter was not in their jurisdiction.  He did, however, give me the name and number of a Fish and Wildlife Service Officer who “would be more than happy to assist me.”  “Call him now,” the dispatcher said. But it’s only seven am, I protested. Something about that proposition didn't seem right to me, but I decided to call anyway. All I got was an answering machine and he never called me back.  Meanwhile, the trespasser was long gone.

The next morning our unwelcome visitor returned promptly at eight and stood by the edge of the pool waiting for a neighbor to finish swimming laps. When the neighbor departed he jumped in the pool and repeated yesterday's performance of swimming from one end to another. "He's back," I told my wife Maja, "and up to his old tricks."  "It's not a he," Maja said, "it's a she."  "Really?  How do you know that?"  Maja shrugged.  "I just know," she said in a voice that suggested that future queries on the subject would be futile.  Ten minutes later, she was in her bathing suit, ready for her morning swim.  While you are downstairs, why don't you tell your "girl friend" she is trespassing?" I said.  She nodded, but said nothing.

The moment of truth.  Which one will blink?
From my chair on the balcony I had a ringside seat for the drama that unfolded next.  Maja slid into the pool while the trespasser eyed her suspiciously.  Slowly, the two began to circle each other, looking for all the world like two female lions marking their territory on the Serengeti Plains in Africa. As the circling continued, Maja slowly advanced to the center of the pool, causing the trespasser to retreat.  Finally, the trespasser was crowded into a corner with Maja just ten feet away.  It was the moment of truth.  As the two of them glared at each other, I could see Maja's mouth moving; but could not hear what she was saying.  Suddenly, with a splash of water and a  fluttering of wings, the trespasser was gone.  Just like that!

What did you say to her anyway?" I asked when Maja returned.  "Oh, just girls talk," she said, smiling mysteriously.  "I don't think she will be bothering us any more," she added.

I sat for a moment or two digesting this information.  Thank God for women, I decided.  They always know what to do!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Why Is the Sea So Angry?

The sea is still angry.  For three days, wave after wave of  frothy surf has been slamming relentlessly into the beach while further out, white caps dot the water all the way to the horizon.  Meanwhile, a howling onshore wind had been bending  palm trees to its will, causing their fronds to weathervane sharply toward the west.
This morning, dark clouds were scudding over our building, causing the sky to alternate between, dark grey, white, and bright blue. Peering up and down the beach through my salt and rain streaked window there was not a sea bird in sight.  This did not surprise me.  Seagulls, pelicans and ospreys---all seasoned aviators---knew instinctively that the weather was not favorable for gliding and soaring above the surf looking for food.  No doubt they were hunkered down in some secret location waiting for the weather to improve.
As usual, we humans were slow to react.  Here and there I could see people trudging along, alone or in groups, heads down, windbreakers billowing in the wind.  Vacationers I decided, struggling to make the most of a one or two week sojourn, eager to sample the joys I experience almost every day of my life.
Yesterday, I watched a surfer stride onto the beach in the face of the howling wind, a surfboard under his arm, ready to do some kite surfing. Exuding an air of  confidence that only a young man can display, he unpacked his kite and made it ready to launch.  The kite launched smartly and rose directly over his head as the surfer began steering it toward the sea.  But the kite had other ideas.  Banking sharply to the right, it headed straight for our building.  The surfer struggled vainly to regained control of the kite to no avail and soon found himself being dragged wildly across the sand.  That's when he disconnected it from his harness.  Once free of the harness, the kite shot straight as an arrow toward my window, picking up speed as it went. Passing a few feet from me it finally crashed into a nearby palm tree where it became entangled in the fronds.
For a moment I stood in stunned silence looking at the wreckage of the kite outside my window.  The whole spectacle had taken less than minute to unfold.  Then I hurried downstairs to help my neighbors who were already assembling to untangle the kite.  As I passed the swimming pool I stopped to look at the its controls which were entangled in the surrounding fence.  It was a sturdy, very professional piece of equipment, and no doubt very expensive.  When I looked at the brand name I had to smile---"Sling Shot."  A very appropriate name I thought---very appropriate indeed!
The surfer arrived a few minutes later, a young man in his twenties looking sheepish but otherwise unhurt.
We helped him pack up his gear and sent him on his way.  He left the beach without trying again.
That night, as I lay in bed listening to the wind howling and rattling our windows I found myself wondering why the sea is so angry. Did we do something to anger her?  Then I remembered that the sea is  the mother of us all and it made sense.  She is probably tired and disillusioned by the unruly and wasteful brood she cast out of the sea and on to dry land.  Anyway, one thing I knew for sure; sooner or later the skies will clear, the winds will cease, and the surface of the ocean will become glassy smooth again.  The thought of those idyllic days ahead lulled me into a deep and peaceful sleep.
10:30 March 6, 2011
I slept late this morning and awoke to the sound of children playing in the swimming pool.  Peeking through the curtains I saw that the wind had subsided considerably, although the surf was still quite choppy.  All was not quite over, but the sound of children gave me hope. That's the way it has always been---the children give us hope. 

Saturday, February 26, 2011

What I Learned From a Dead Shark

6:00 AM,
Gulf Stream, Florida

I couldn't sleep last night, for reasons that are not important.  We all have our "can't sleep" stories. After turning and thrashing most of the night, I finally gave up and stumbled to my balcony; a cup of coffee in  hand, ready to face the day. 
As I stood facing the ocean one thing was readily apparent, even to my sleep-deprived mind.  It was going to be another spectacular day.  The wind was calm, the surface of the ocean glassy smooth, and the sun was announcing its arrival by bathing a few scattered clouds on the horizon in tones of rosy pink.  Looking up and  down the beach there was no one and nothing to be seen; nothing that is, but a large, nondescript tangle of seaweed and driftwood that had washed ashore.
Settling in my chair to watch the sunrise my eyes kept coming back to that tangle of debris.  I couldn't get it out of my mind.  The more I stared at it, the more I began to imagine that it was a creature of some kind. That was nonsense of course, but I couldn't shake the thought.  Finally, more out of exasperation than anything, I grabbed my camera and walked shoeless through the cool grass and onto the beach.
The beach was still deserted and as I trudged across the sand toward the debris I realized that it was indeed a creature---a five foot shark washed ashore by the tide.

He was a magnificent creature and also, a very dead one.  That much was clear.  Yet, I found myself circling him cautiously,  afraid to touch him for fear he would awake and attack . Gathering my courage, I bent over and quickly saw the cause of his demise.  A bright yellow insulated wire protruded from his belly. I pulled on it gently but it would not budge. A fishing line, I decided---cut and left for the creature to die.
It was getting lighter and I realized that this moment of solitude would not last much longer---and I began snapping pictures.  The final shot put it all in perspective.  At my feet lay a symbol of death, one of God's creatures whose life is over.  In front of me, was the promise of life, a bright new day.  And between the two, the calm, imperturbable mother of us all ---the sea.
For a moment I stood over the shark in respectful silence, almost as if I were at a burial service.  Then I heard the sound of approaching footsteps; a neighbor with camera in hand---and the spell was broken.
Turning, I returned to the beach stairway with a spring in my step---eager to learn what joys this bright new day would bring.
10:00 AM
I looked over the balcony and the shark was gone.  Did he ever exist?  Perhaps yes, perhaps no.  Will someone in some future life ask the same about me?  Perhaps yes, perhaps no.