Thursday, July 29, 2010

A Gulf Notebook, Part 1

From Naples pier: what spill? The beachfront's neo-conquistador lushness is soundtracked with soft jazz. Intermittent chat swells between backfloaters. Brown pelicans hover and dive. A fisherman pulls a four-foot-long bonnet shark out of the water, cuts and cleans it right there, tucking its meat in tiny sandwich bags. Dolphins surface to the delight of post-dinner strollers. Someone on a waverunner glides into the sunset.

From Saint Armands Key to Weeki Wachee, Cedar Key to Apalachiola: the same blue-green waters, the continuous white beach. Then, starting at Pensacola Beach, there is a sand change.

Balls of sand caked with oil. Most are about the size of a penny or a nickel. Several, like this one, are bigger than my hand:

These constellations continue westward, Gulf Beach to Waveland.

By Mobile Bay, rigs like these become a regular part of the landscape. Crossing Bon Secours Bay by ferry I counted two dozen on the gulf, seven in the bay.

At right about the same point, this, too, becomes a regular part of the landscape: tarballs that, when their thinly congealed membrane breaks, ooze.

This tern was on the western tip of Dauphin Island, its wings sludged in thick oil. For hours it fought to unsheen its wings in the surf, then went under.

Before long, the beaches are unpeopled, blocked off. Boom lines the shore to halt each oncoming wave. The black in this water is not shadow.

Michael Nardone lives in the Northwest Territories.
He transcribes for PennSound and Jacket.


Anonymous said...

Welcome, Michael.


nikki reimer said...