Bodega Bay, California
This afternoon, an hour before sunset, I walked the sticky beach at the bay, my sandals sinking in the waterlogged mud, wet sand seeping into my socks staining them with sea silt. Near me, a couple bending over, hip to hip, dug for clams beside the silver sea. A grandmother with her two grandchildren walked passed with two dogs, a cute yorkshire terrier snuggled in a pink sweater and a frisky bichon in a brown leather jacket with shiny buttons, both dogs dressed up for a Saturday night at the coast. The family avoided the water line keeping to the dry path along the rocks.
As the sun grew fainter, I looked out at the sea birds along the rippled muddy edge of the bay preen in large flocks, settling into their sunset routine. A red fishing boat headed in with their catch. The birds barely moved, avoiding flight.
Walking back to the car, I saw the dead seal, his skull clean to the bone, the rest of his body ruptured, covered in large wounds, half way exposed hidden partially in his rocky tomb. Across the road, dozens of people lined up, social distancing with their masks on, waiting to order crab sandwiches, clam chowder, and shrimp cocktails in take-out containers. I could feel their festive spirit as sunset approached, the breath of happiness in the salt air, the letting go, a break from complicated lives, the hope for better days to come.