Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Death on the beach

(Photos by your humble blogkeeper)

Rehoboth being a beach town, land around it, much of it only recently developed, is in great demand for housing. Er, make that luxury living only minutes from the beach.

I spent the day on delightful bicycle trails that passed through fields, along abandoned railway track beds, across moody dunes and spreading salt marshes,  through a state park, and past new residential "communities" with names like Grande Canal Pointe and -- I am not making this up -- Wolfe Runne. What kind of people would spend $100,000 more for a house just for a couple of superfluous e's?

Had a pleasant and informative chat with an archaeological illustrator at work at the Zwaanendael Museum in Lewes, and witnessed what looked like a haunting, ironic death on the beach -- of a horseshoe crab, I should add, not a human.

I'd got myself hopelessly lost in Cape Henlopen State Park, and I finally abandoned the road in favor of walking and riding back along the beach to Rehoboth. It was late, the beach was empty, and I saw the creature -- call it Gregor -- on its back, its sand-crusted limbs still.

I made it home. He didn't.

I flipped it onto its front, figuring that a species that's been around for 350 million years deserves some dignity, and I felt like Schweitzer when its tail started moving. Then the tide lapped up, swept around Gregor, and he died again.

Stupid arthropod. They're supposed to like water.

© Peter Rozovsky 2011

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23 Comments:

Anonymous Elisabeth said...

The Horseshoe Crab is a fascinating animal. I imagine you looked it up and found that it is essentially unchanged after millions of years of evolution. That looking at a Horseshoe Crab today is like looking at a Horseshoe Crab in the Paleozoic. Awe-inspiring.

I like your photo of dunes, beach grasses, and rickety erosion-prevention fence. That image always defines “East coast beach” to me. Although we have plenty of dunes in California, beach grasses are seldom seen and there are only a few beaches with erosion-prevention fencing. I can look at photos I took of a similar (daytime) scene on the beach at Cape May, NJ, and of tidal grasses on the Chesapeake Bay, MD, on my desk as I type this. I’m getting all nostalgic!

Gosh! You sure did a lot of cycling, going all the way up to Lewes from Rehoboth Beach. “Archaeological illustrator,” huh? That’s what my husband does about 6 months of the year. For the past couple of years he’s been working at a Romano-German site.

Yeah, what is it with that phony “e” added to perfectly good nouns? Driving down the coast to San Diego recently, we noticed that Pacific Coast Hwy was strewn with new, pseudo-Tuscan developments named Pointe this and Pointe that. Gad! And here I was thinking it was an Orange County phenomenon. That “Runne” takes the cake, though.

October 25, 2011  
Blogger Fred said...

I remember driving the coast road in New Hampshire many years ago and wondering at all the "Ye Olde (fill in your favorite emporium)."

I guess it brings them in.

October 25, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I'd seen horseshoe crabs before, in bunches either in Cape May or somewhere around there. I read today that, while they generally live in ocean shallows, they will sometimes some ashore to mate. In Cape May, they had an orgy. Poor Gregor apparently didn't score, or else he got drunk, passed out, and his mates left him behind.

Yeah, these new developments are Ye Olde Shoppe gone wild. What kind of person think those e's add class? Probably the kind who would think "class" is a desirable quality.

The silent e's kept coming alive for me, and I kept imagining a wolf with the sniffles.

October 25, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Fred, I'll stick up for my coast. You'll have read the Elisabeth says the bogus-e phenomenon pervades Orange County, too.

October 25, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Maybe it's an American phenomenon. Nothing is old here, so we make things olde instead.

October 25, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Elisabeth, I did even more cycling than you'd think. I took one trail to Lewes, spent the afternoon there, then had the bright idea that I'd ride back along the ocean through Cape Henlopen State Park. But no one road runs straight north and south through the park, so I rode in innumerable circles and all kinds of wrong directions. I saw some nice dunes and salt marshes, though.

October 25, 2011  
Anonymous Elisabeth said...

...so I rode in innumerable circles and all kinds of wrong directions.

Well, it sounds like the detours and wrong-ways were enjoyable, serendipitous travels. And you made it back alive without having been attacked by a "wolfe". (A pack of wolfes??) Yes, I read "Runne" as "runny," too.

The book before the current one I'm reading featured a local gathering place called Ye Sandwiche Shoppe...

Curious as to whether there actually had been wolves in Delaware in the past (I figured there must have been, at least until the early 18th century) I ran across this. Bring in a wolf's head, get 5 lbs. of tobacco!

October 25, 2011  
Blogger seana said...

Like that night photo. And also the info about the horseshoe crab.

October 25, 2011  
Blogger Philip Amos said...

Peter, I'm not sure that in this context the views of an aging academic, now retired for health reasons but still freely editing (i.e., not getting paid for editing the mss of academic chums), but I think that the 'night' photograph (no expertise on my part here, mind you) is very fine, and in the writing of the text you excel yourself. If your worst fears re the future of the copy editor come to pass (well, they already have in book publishing), I see two new careers for you to take up with a head start on success. Mighty good stuff, Peter.

October 26, 2011  
Blogger Philip Amos said...

Postscript. It seems sometimes inevitable that when you write about editing you make a mistake. I meant to write the phrase "means very much" after the parenthesis. My apologies for any confusion.

October 26, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Elisabeth, I enjoyed the detours, but not the prospect of being lost until dark -- primeval fear of the forest reasserting itself, and all that.

It's no surprise to me that Delaware once had wolves. A developer buys a few acres, grabs an encyclopedia, looks up some odd fact about Delaware, adds an e to the end of it, and -- presto! -- Class. Know what I mean?

October 26, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Thanks, Seana. To think that if I'd never got lost in the woods, I'd never had to ride and trudge along the beach, and i'd never have had my encounter with Gregor.

Not so with the photo of the beach fence. Those are everywhere here -- two displayed in my bathroom of the bed and breakfast, for example.

October 26, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Thanks, Philip. I'd inserted the missing phrase mentally and was unaware that it was missing until you pointed it out. That may portend ill for the need for editors, but it does say something interesting about the psychology and physiology of reading.

October 26, 2011  
Anonymous I.J.Parker said...

Sounds like a lovely way to unwind. I like both beaches and bicycles. Nice to put them together.
(I'm currently copy-editing my own book. I guess that means one less job for someone.)

October 26, 2011  
Blogger Fred said...

Peter,

Yes, I have read her message. And, considering the "bounce back" effect, we here in Arizona should experience it within a few years (assuming it hasn't already popped up already and I just haven't seen it yet).

October 26, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I.j., my next Rehoboth post is likely to mention the town's independent bookstore, surprisingly good for a bookshop in a beachside town, and an addition to the alliterative possibilities.

Doesn't matter much if no one pays editors because, if the much-eulogized Steve Jobs was right, reading is dead, anyhow.

October 26, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Fred, I wonder if Arizona has cheesy Mexican-style cantinas with cheesy Mexican-style names. Or maybe its cantinas are real.

October 26, 2011  
Anonymous I.J.Parker said...

The Southwest is full of cheesy Mexican restaurants with cheesy names. Most of them are excellent. I miss them.

Reading isn't dead, but some people say books are. In any case, we're all in an upheaval the size of a major earthquake. Writers try to ride it out somehow.

October 26, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

And editors learn quickly what is (regarded as) essential and what is (regarded as) luxury.

October 26, 2011  
Blogger Fred said...

Peter,

Cheesy cantinas? Depends upon what part of town you are in. Tucson is a tourist town with a large number of winter visitors, so there is a considerable effort made to separate them from their dollars by using a suitable "atmosphere."

The real thing? Mostly in the south and western parts of town and in South Tucson, but few tourists ever get there, at least not the first year ones.

October 27, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Hmm, I should open a restaurant called La Cantina Quesesca, or The Cheesy Cantina.

I figure that with Arizona's cultural and ethnic mix, one might find both atmosphere and "atmosphere."

October 27, 2011  
Blogger Fred said...

Peter,

Better hurry before someone gets the same idea. We just lost three Mexican restaurants, each of which has been in business for over fifty years.

October 28, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Yikes! Driven out of business by chains, I take it?

October 28, 2011  

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