A Beached Tale

Today I thought I’d just show you some photos of the beach house where we stayed over the weekend, as well as share a little story.

Another view of the house…

Or do you like the black and white version better?

We weren’t as isolated as we looked in that photo; immediately outside the frame on either side was another house. But we did have more room down at the far end of the island than a lot of the rental houses further up do, and the house was just lovely; one of the nicer rentals I’ve ever stayed in, actually.


Not only was the house nice and roomy with a great view, but all the furnishings were high-quality and the kitchen was well-equipped. For the most part, Doug and I rent houses only when we can take our pets along, which means the furnishings are going to be less impressive. Doug was staying home this time, though, so my pets weren’t with me, and anyway, my parents were the ones who rented the house so it wasn’t up to me (if it had been, I would have gone for a pet-friendly place as always).

One seriously nice kitchen

I am like my parents in that I’d rather spend a lot of money on a nice place to stay when I vacation, and spend less on outings and sight-seeing while I’m there. Then I tend to hang around the nice house most of the time and venture out only on occasion. My folks are the same way. A few times we wandered down to the public beach that was right beyond our private walkway, but for the most part we hung out on the balcony or in the huge family area – the wind must have been at least 30 MPH on Saturday and was almost intolerable, so I spent a lot of my time in this room, looking at the beach through the back windows:


Speaking of the public beach, our little strip of it offered an interesting day of people-watching, as beach-sitting always does. The most memorably mind-altered beachgoer had to be the twentysomething woman who drew our attention towards sundown. My niece’s boyfriend was the first one to alert us to her presence; we had just finished eating dinner when he walked over to the windows and said “hey, what is this person doing?” That led to all the teenagers heading to the window, where various exclamations were heard, all questioning the behavior of a person who was “just hanging out” by one of the many trashcans that dotted the beach (if you look in the photo below, you can see a few of them lining the sandy roadway). Eventually my mom wandered over to the windows with her binoculars, at which point they could all be heard squealing, “Eeewww! She’s leaning over it now!” I responded by saying that she’d obviously had too much to drink and was, shall we say, relieving herself of her liquor through less than pleasant means, but  someone said no, it didn’t actually look like she was getting sick, but rather was just sticking her head in it.

Our private walkway to the beach

Well, who just sticks their head in a trashcan? Didn’t make much sense to me, so I finally got up to see what was going on. By that time, the woman had walked away from it; I could see that she was dressed normally for the beach (shorts, a swim top, a light jacket, barefoot) and was walking quite steadily towards yet another trash can; she then pulled back her longish hair with her hands, and leaned right down into it, sticking her head and shoulders all the way in. She did this for a few minutes – and in fact, did not appear to be heaving – then poked her head back up, looked around, walked around to the side of trash can, kicked it over…and then crawled into it. 

And yes, I took pictures. I know what this says about me.

By this time we were all beside ourselves. We’d run through all the possiblities, but none of them seemed to fit. She did not appear homeless at all and was very clean. Her gait gave no indication that she was altered by some substance – she walked in a straight line (when not occupied by crawling into trash cans) and would even break into a run while making her way down the beach. But every once in awhile, she’d stop and stick her head, or her whole body, into one of the cans.


At first I contended that she was mentally insane, but again, that didn’t quite fit – she just didn’t look disheveled enough, although I could totally be wrong about that. My best guess is that she was tripping on acid, which might explain why she could walk so normally from time to time but then get totally distracted by this experience of sticking herself into trash cans. I tried to take the high road at first, but admit I eventually became as amused by her as everyone else (at one point, one of my nieces snuck down to inspect a trash can she’d visited, and came back to report that it was completely empty), and we monitored her progress all the way up the beach until she took a sharp left at a private walkway a good distance away from us and disappeared.

It didn’t stop there though – since my father had his guitar out and was noodling away on it while we all tried to figure out what this woman was doing, someone got the bright idea that we should write a song about her, to commemorate her trashcan-love. As soon as my dad heard this suggestion, he immediately began playing “Annie’s Song,” by John Denver, the first line of which is “You fill up my senses…”  Which of course, completely cracked us up.

I’m sad to say that we still kept going; we actually sat down and wrote new lyrics for John Denver’s song (whom we re-named “John Dumpster” for the occasion) and then WE SANG IT. We are terrible people, I know. But since we’re already going to hell for this one, here are the lyrics for you to enjoy as well. We can all sing this together as we ride our hand-basket into the fiery pits of Hades:

You fill up my senses
Like a night in a trash can
Like the beaches in springtime
Like a walk through the dump
Like a storm in my stomach
Like a summer day’s garbage
You fill up my senses
Come trash me again

Come let me lean on you
Let me give my lunch to you
Let me roll in your lining
Let me die in your can
Let me lay down inside you
Let me always be with you
Come let me love you
Come trash me again

The last thing I’ll say about poor Trashcan Woman is this: the next day, I remembered I’d actually taken a picture of one of the cans the morning before, because I thought the saying on it was amusing – but by that time I’d forgotten what the saying was. When I pulled the photo back up and showed it to the family after all this though, it cracked us up all over again:

Oh Trashcan Woman, it all makes sense now

Tropical Depression – Poem

Tropical Depression

Unlike other storms, Alicia
never wavered, never eyed

another destination, her satellite coil
of clouds blotting out

the TV radar screen, tracking westward
along the coast

towards the island
of our salvation. Headlights guided

a tourists’ line of retreat
on Seawall Boulevard,

windshield wipers clicked off
a steady stream of missed opportunities.

The scent of coconut oiled the air
inside our car, milky and nostalgic, the linger

of a summer already ended,
and all our little failures

swept across the glass
and puddled in the flooding street.

Waiting for Bolivar Ferry – Poem

Waiting For Bolivar Ferry

We wait our turn
on a weekend
when tourists and teens
on the peninsula
to stretch their skin
in the sun: engines off,
windows down,
radios up,
as if the beat
some inner rhythm
of parched hearts.

A sheen of boys
begins to volley
for attention, girls
in open truckbeds
cake makeup,
spray hair
already starched
with heat.

The shoreline
brings the sleaze
out of everyone,
the steam
that shimmies up
from the concrete,
the stick, the sweat,
the hidden grit
that slicks
to the surface.

We are waiting
for Bolivar Ferry.

When it docks
we’ll all pull forward
in tight metal rows
onto the boat
that will slick us
like plastic
six-pack scrap
across the sea.