We walked out from Locust Beach. A layer of fine, organic particulate covered the last feet of cobbles—bits of leaves and wood and mud—alarmingly looses and deep. We sunk in past our ankle as we picked our way out beyond the old posts with their crooked nest boxes, still empty of martins, and onto firm ground. We walked out and out, aimed towards the gleam of water. The sediment was finely graded silt, and clay in the shallow dips and rises. I wiggled my feet down into the silt. The clay was pleasantly sticky.
The water, when we reached it, was shallow and warm. We kept walking. The tide was still retreating. We aimed towards a ribbon of darker blue, dotted with shapes that became five, ten, dozens of eagles and a lone fishing heron. “The main channel has shifted west,” my friend said. “We could probably walk almost all the way,” and he pointed to the distant peninsula. We had been walking for most of an hour and both had work still to do. We turned back. I could no longer see the posts. The shore was a smear of green trees and brown sand where the bluff had slumped down to the beach, and on top of the bluff the ugly boxes of developments, like matching toy houses set along the land’s edge. South and east the city rose up from the crescent of Bellingham Bay, framed by dark hills. To the north and west the braided mouth of the Nooksack and the peninsula were a single low, green mass. The retreating water had exposed huge, rolling ripples running perpendicular to the shore.
I imagined turning and following one of those sand bars. Imagined it from an eagle’s eye view, bent around the river’s mouth, and me small as an ant, walking its curve. Instead, we negotiated a point on the shore to aim towards, half way between the old cement plant and where the bluffs dipped down to the beach. We walked back, adjusting our trajectory as the land came into focus. Our shoes were where we’d left them at the edge of the rocky beach.
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