Thursday, April 7, 2011

Beach Environmentalism 101

It's Man vs. Nature. Guess who's winning.

We're sitting at the beach at Padre Island National Seashore watching two men, a dump truck and a backhoe make a mess in the sand. They've already shoveled seaweed (mixed with a lot of sand) into mounds, much like Northerners plow the snow in a paring lot. And now they want to move the mounds. So they've brought in the big guys to haul 'em off.

Three, four, five times the backhoe dumps the weed mixture into the bed of the truck (spilling a lot in the process). Then the truck drives its cargo of beach stuff off the beach (I don't know where it went from there), all the while more seaweed rolls in with the tide.

It's what happens here every year, this carpet of seaweed 10-20 feet wide. It's no surprise that seaweed clogs the beach from March through June. It's just what happens.

But people don't like it; tourists complain; local businesses suffer because who wants to play in seaweed.
So Man battles Nature.

After dinner, we return to the beach, and it's quiet. The big equipment is gone, but its scars radiate and undulate out from the remining heap of seaweed and makes the whole thing look like a giant octopus sand sculpture. Or the real thing, washed ashore, just not ready yet to die.

I also see big ruts in the sand. Deep, cavernous ruts. I had heard earlier that the dump truck had gotten stuck and had to be towed out. Makes me smile. Because it's like nature getting back at us for for our impatience. We can't wait for her to do her job of cleaning up the beach, of drying out the seaweed, then blowing it apart wth her fierce wind, thus scattering the remains throughout the dunes.

No, we go in with our metal shovels and deisel-powdered, 10-wheeled trucks to cart the stuff away. So she sucks us in. And then stands by to watch as we squirm our way out.

She's giggling right now. Because she's winning.

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