Owing to the long cool Winter that is stretching into Spring, the beach here fills up at even the slightest increase in sunshine and warmth. We had a record 2 sunny and hot days in a row before the coolness returned. One day it was 50 degrees F and the next it was 85. The sunburns are everywhere.
Even though it has warmed up a tad, I am still wearing my leather jacket. My jeans hide knee socks beneath the denim and when I walk the sands, it is in sensible shoes. Today the tide is way way out as my dog and I do our daily outing. Unbelievably, at the water's edge is a tiny woman with her toes exposed to the water. She is laughing as the water tickles in and out. A couple in their 60's earnestly tries to find out who this lady belongs to. She just laughs her delightful laugh and then suddenly I hear her say: "Ask her. She knows." She means me.
The couple pounce on me and begin an onslaught about negligence and elder abuse and should we call the police so someone can come and take her back to whatever old age home she escaped from and on and on and on. The man has his cellphone out. I look over to the barefoot lady and I recognize her at last.
"No no," I tell the couple, "She lives on the bluff there. She is fine."
Still unconvinced they mutter and walk off. He has his cellphone at the ready, clearly hoping to use it. The little lady calls my dog who is delighted to run over and try to climb onto her.
She bends over and pats him inbetween chuckles.
"How are you doing Bea?" I ask her.
She laughs some more.
"Almost every time I come down here this happens. Some kindly soul tries to save me from myself."
It might have something to do with her tiny stature. Bea is 4 foot nine. It might have something to do with her choice of wardrobe. Bea wears three shades of pink, non matching, and layered innovatively. It might have something to do with the incongruity of a small elderly woman being one mile out from the safety of the curbs where every other person of her age sits.
I ask Bea if she can make it back up the steep stairs or if she is going to walk around the long way. She gives a little snort and I feel chastised.
She stands up releasing my dog. She looks me in the eye, a distance of a foot or so and says:
"I have been coming here since I was 21 years old and newly married. The only thing that has really changed around here is the number of people who have never seen an capable old lady before."
I get the idea and change the subject.
"If I have lost confidence in myself, I have the Universe against me."
-Ralph Waldo Emerson