Mornings on the Coast

Renae Brabham

I was flying out of the door with a backwards glance at the clock. Darn, forgot my "Go to heck hat." Oh well. Some things God is a stickler about and sunrise is one of them. Crossing the bridge to the Isle of Palms in haste, I looked out over the creeks and marshes, red with the glow of a sun not yet peeked out over the sea yet. I almost punched the gas but realized that I would miss the pink and blue hues that bring on the brilliance of that big orange ball in the sky.


I made it to the beach a full minute ahead of the peekaboo line of fire inching its way over the dark depths of the Atlantic. Seconds ticked by as it tocked above the starting line. Dark, bulky shadows on the beach turn into couples sitting side by side in the sand. Dogs sit loyally by their masters. Seagulls and crows patter nervously back and forth, hovering near the bubbling caves in the sand, anticipating their morning meal of hermit crabs. Heron and geese fly over. Waves pay no attention to the sunrise, they just keep doing what they're doing.


After that first light, I was able to see where to walk across the expansive water pressed sand. Dead low tide made it a nice long walk to the shoreline and I loved the coolness of the powdery sand. My feet crunched at the backwash of the sea.


As thousands of tiny shells crackled beneath my feet, I realized for the thousandth time in my life that I have issues. Who feels sorry for the tiny seashells? Me. I blame it on my Field Guide to Shells of North America. I never thought of shells as having lips and eyeballs, but most do.


I almost tripped over a pile of sandy, wet clothes and tennis shoes. The surf must've consumed them sometime during the night, as they were iced in heavy wet sand. The owner naked and shoeless somewhere.


A fisherman in a beach chair gave the appropriate respect to the glory of sunrise, then walked purposefully into the surf to cast his line as the first fisherman of the day. The same one walked back within minutes to get more bait. The fish wins. First to eat breakfast.


I stood in awe of the beautiful sunrise and thanked my maker. Turning to walk back to the boardwalk, a pile of conkle shells beckoned me. And there it was! One year and one month of walking the beach here and I finally found my first whole sand dollar! My bowl of shells at home contains the sand quarters I had previously found. I looked back at the horizon a few times from the boardwalk, not really wanting to leave, but the day presses on, doesn't it.


I passed a glass storefront window on the boardwalk and was horrified at my reflection. I tried to beat the Kramer-like pile of fuzz on my head down and I pulled out of the beach parking area and behind an old truck onto the IOP connector. The man driving slowed to look out over the inlets as we crossed the bridge. There was a messy redhead sitting beside him in the passenger seat—relief washed over me that I wasn't the only one with a brillo pad for hair this morning.


A mile or two up, the road split into two lanes, and the truck went into the left lane at the stop light. I stayed in the right. I looked over and what do you know? That messy redhead was one indeed—a beach soaked red retriever! I am sure I looked like a idiot, a laughing frizzy-headed mess at that light. But what a wonderful morning...