04 March 2009

The raccoon, she may be putrified, if you even make it that far.

Took the dogs down to the beach early in the morning. Rain clouds were coming in, and wanted them to run a while before they were cooped up all day. Was a cold, sharp wind walking down there. Late enough that it was light out but early enough that the light was all battleship gray, all stiff and the light of a day that's unforgiving. Didn't even know if we'd find any beach. Even at low tide, in the winter, sometimes the beach held under by the surf. Water is gray and loud and slaps itself right up to the cliff edge. Slaps hard and mean and isn't a joke. Not a sea you can go to close to. Stay up above it and hope it doesn't come for you and sweep a tiny dog away. No one has a chance when the beach taken over by the sea.

Tide down enough that was a little patch of beach left, stunty, with dirty poofs of foam blowing across it in the wind, like someone spat on a giant dandelion and those puffs scattering, ready to make weeds now in a thousand new places. When the beach is small, have to make extra sure there's no bad dogs down there when you let small dogs go. Not enough room for small dogs to run somewhere where mean dogs aren't. Or even dogs that aren't mean. Big dogs, pushy dogs, dogs with people who don't get it. Pitbulls that belong to the hippies that sleep in their cars at the parking spot up above. Dogs with no boundaries. We like to have our own section, own private idaho, where everyone who weighs less than a good sized ham can chase seaweed and not be smashed by blundering heavy paws and heads. No worries of being picked up with strong white teeth.

One man down there with a schipperke. Another little black dog, the bear shaped cousin of all mine, chasing frothy white chunks blown up from the surf line across the sand. Runs around and plays with my dogs for a bit, mostly Gustavo, the ambassador of small dog goodness. He likes the schipperke. He likes everybody.

I don't much talk to folks there. No good reason not to, just don't. He starts to come up by where I'm picking up stuff to throw for the dogs, weathered guy, balding head and faded tan clothes. Wonder for a minute, how this guy comes by a schipperke. I could ask, I should ask, but I don't. He comes over by me to shoot the shit for a minute. I throw a seaweed stick for the dogs, with the wind, not against it, so it sails really far before slamming into a rock.

He tells me something first I don't hear, sand and surf and wind in my ears. Storm should be coming in any time. I am mostly hoping we can make it home before the rain starts up hard. I sort of ignore him and squint out at the sea, like it's got some kind of answer.

He says it again, and I smile back and nod, even though I have no idea what he just said. He could have just asked me if I have any meth to sell, and I'm all, uh huh. Sure. Nice.

He comes in closer, and says it one more time. "Dead racoon, over there, washed up by the rocks."

I make that face I make when I forget to edit. The one that gives me wrinkles in all the wrong places. "Dead Raccoon?" New wrinkles. People with botox, don't get those wrinkles.

He nods. Has those old guy eyebrows that sort of fuzz over old guy eyes.

My face goes all cronky. One day, will get me some of that botox. "Eeeww. Never seen a dead RACCOON on the beach. That's totally gross. Weird."

He says something else that I lose in the wind. Something, something, something and "PUTRIFICATION."

Sort of lost me there. Either raccoon is putrified, or it isn't. But it's just too loud and cold to find out. People with botox, probably don't hear about putrified raccoons first thing in the morning.

Dogs play for another few minutes, and then he grabs the schipperke, throws out a Have-A-Nice-Day into the wind, and heads up to the stairs. I throw a few more sticks for everyone, the amber seaweed bulbs that make for the best dog sticks. Otterpop takes hers and goes and lays down far from me, hoarding her one little seaweed when there are 40 million more scattered across the wet sand. Sky looks darker and darker, and I figure that's it if I have any hope of making it home before the rain hits. Just wearing sneakers and a sweatshirt. I'm not much one for stuff like Rain Gear. Always nice to get good and wet before going out to a wet day at work.

Call in the dogs and walk by where he said the raccoon was. Wondering why it was down on the beach, came down there to die or washed up from the sea? And if I am going to see putrification and if anyone will try and roll in it. They don't usually try if I'm right there with them. Leave-its work great unless I'm half a mile away, like when we find carcasses on the long for miles beach, further down to the south.

Didn't find the raccoon. Small seal carcass there, right where he said the raccoon was. Maybe a young one. Or just a stunty, runty, seal. Has soft, short fur, like seals have when they're dry, which for seals I see, is usually when they're dead. It's not putrified, it's all there. Some small little seal, washed up at the rocks, almost up at the cliff edge. Either went there to die, or washed up dead. Maybe a young one, lost it's mom. Either way, if tide stays low enough, will lay there and rot, parts of it will putrify, right there in the sand. Or more likely, since the storm is coming, surf waves sweep in and wash it back out to sea.

I look around for a minute. Is there a raccoon there, too? Did he really think the seal's a raccoon? Raccoons, just so gross. So wrong. Don't belong on the beach with the dead seals. Need to go elsewhere to die. For some reason, just sounds really disturbing, that somewhere up there, by the dead seal, maybe also a dead raccoon. Don't know why this is bugging me so much. Just seems so dumb. That you would mix up a seal and a raccoon. Or that a raccoon would be dead on the beach.

We just kept walking, went up the stairs, and started the walk home with the wind at our backs.


Anonymous said...

I was in such a pessimistic frame of mind this morning, but this story -- oddly -- has righted me. Thank you TSD!

I'm thinking porch-warming party when the rain stops and the days are longer?

vici whisner said...

OK, LOVE the tile. The whole parallel of porch and dead racoon...something being what it isn't...yeh ..I'm like, I'd go look for a dead racoon for sure...

I think that a set of weaves would fit on that porch.

Elf said...

Wow, TSD, the front of your house looks wonderful now! Nice job tying the two separate plot lines together at the end. By "nice" I mean interesting strategy.

Anonymous said...

awesome tile, specially the painted ones on the fronts of the steps, the little details...
raccoons DEFINITELY do not belong on any beach. many lifetimes ago, living back East, a dead raccoon meant one thing: RABIES!!! never go near a dead raccoon. never. ever. have not been to your beach, but have been to sand city beach, the old fort ord beach, bird's eye view flying along the ridge paragliding, and have seen dead seals, from totally fresh to totally putrified, have seen people naked, doing it and not doing it, homeless people in their little tattered tents, but never a raccoon, dead or alive. keep the Team away from the raccoons!