To Boldly Go: the North Shore of Block Island

Rocky beach and lighthouse, Block Island north end

I made the choice to not be a slave to my camera on this extraordinarily rare excursion with a friend, knowing the strong temptation to indulge in my private experience through the lens would take away from my short time to spend with Steve, since our time together we measure in hours per decade.

I did carry my shirt-pocket camera on our bike excursion to the north end of Block Island, though I find using it for anything other than macro shots to be an exercise in frustration and its results disappointing compared to the much bulkier Nikon DSLR.

Even so, Kodak Moments the Powershot can handle. And this first-time-ever walk along a rocky beach is about more than pixels and grain and color. It is about a brief excursion into a new realm of this world I’d not experienced before as a hiker, as a biologist, or as a pilgrim-in-place observer of how landscapes exert their influence on our lives.

For me, beaches have been wide, white-sandy and more often than not, strewn with Copper-toned bodies, beach umbrellas, gritty towels and orchestrated by waves crashing and kids thrashing in the shallows. So this was an altogether different experience of land meeting ocean.

Block Island is a remnant jumble of rocky debris left over after the retreat of the last Ice-age glacier. Are these quartz and granite melon-sized rocks from land, or tossed up by high seas? They are impossible to walk on (especially with my foot issues) and the more so as you approach the bust-your-ass zone near the water where every stone is coated in algal slime.

Between the stone-zone and the water is a thick mat of assorted wave-tossed sea-weeds. Again, there isn’t nearly so much variety in the green, red and brown algal groups on a Daytona beach, so I spent a good bit of time picking around in the flotsam. More on that soon.

Gulls are the 24/7 omnivores of the coast, and they were actively rearing young all around the lighthouse and in the intertidal zone along this beach. We finally sorted out the various immatures that belonged to the mature Rufous, Blackbacked, and Herring Gulls that reeled and circled overhead and whose young complained from the dunes.

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