To outsiders 39 degrees doesn’t sound very warm, but in Homer, in the middle of March, when there is no wind and the sun is shining, it feels downright toasty, especially if you’re wearing your favorite wool sweater. Yesterday, St. Patrick’s Day, was one of those days. Unfortunately I had to work, but I did manage to get outside over my lunch break.
First, I left the library and waded through several inches of slush in the parking lot to find my way to the walking trail that leads through the woods. The trail hasn’t been cleared since last week’s storm, but a narrow path of packed down snow made it passable. I could have followed the road, but I would have been sprayed and subsequently soaked if a car had driven past. On the trail I met a young guy whose mother is a friend of mine. When he stepped aside to let me pass he sunk about two feet into the soft, melting snow. It was very chivalrous of him considering the fact that he was wearing sneakers and I had my snow boots.
At the end of the trail I turned south on Poopdeck Street. At this point I had to shade my eyes with my hands. The sun, the snow, the water; well it was all a little overwhelming for my pupils. The sidewalk was also icy which made for some interesting maneuvering. I walked and slid my way downhill to the highway, without crashing I might add, with one hand above my eyes and the other out in front of me for balance.
I crossed the highway at the crosswalk and cut through the Islands and Ocean Visitors Center parking lot to meet the next trail. It cuts down through the spruce and alder forest and leads to one of my favorite destinations in Homer; Two Sisters Bakery. But yesterday it was too nice outside, and I needed the sun more than I needed a chocolate bread roll, so I walked past the bakery and headed toward Bishop’s Beach.
The parking area was crowded. Dogs and children were milling about. A black lab and a German shepherd, free from their owners, ran up to greet me. It turns out that I knew both of the dogs and when I called out their names, Osa and Caspian, they were beside themselves. They proceeded to swarm around me in a flurry of leaping and hopping and wagging tails. When the boys who belonged to the dogs caught up they seemed equally as excited as the dogs at having found someone they know at the beach. Sometimes there’s nothing like a good greeting.
After a short chat in the parking lot I walked through the soft sand at the top of the beach and over the rocky stretch about half way down before I reached the final stretch of my journey. Still wet from the receding tide and littered with clumps of seaweed, driftwood and clam shells, the expanse of dark sand just before the water is one of my favorite places. Sometimes I walk long distances along the water’s edge, taking advantage of the firm surface, but yesterday my time was limited so instead of walking parallel to the water I went straight toward it.
I knew I didn’t have long, that I’d have to turn back in order to get back to work on time, but I stood for a while with the water inching in and out around the soles of my boots. I listened to the waves. I turned my head toward the sun and soaked in its heat for a few moments. Then I did something that I hadn’t planned on doing; I took off my gloves and plunged my hands in the ocean. For some reason it just seemed like the right thing to do.