Thursday, April 1, 2010

Crows, Cockleshells and Flat Tires

I dropped down to the harbor yesterday to do a little work on the boat and I was amazed at the number of cockle shells that littered the loading ramp area. On minus tides, like the ones we're experiencing, the mud flats are exposed and the cockles that lay just under the suface are easy prey for the birds. Crows are the only ones I've seen probing the mud. Once they've located and dislodged one of the mollusks, they fly into the air and drop it on the concrete or pavement, thus breaking the shell and exposing the meat inside. Of course they don't bother cleaning up after themselves and it's almost impossible to keep from running over the shells. Several years ago I was pushing one of the two wheeled carts that the harbor keeps for the patrons to use. I wasn't paying too much attention I guess until I heard the familiar crunch of a shell being crushed and heard a Pssssssss as the air when whooshing out of the tire. I can't remember what I was hauling - probably 8D boat batteries or fifty pound cannonballs. In any event, whatever I had was heavy and I had to push it up the steep ramp with one of the two tires flat. I know that it can't always be low tide when I have a massive burden to haul to or from the boat, but it certainly seems like it is. One of two scenarios usually happens; I'm going down the ramp, which is set at a fourty-five degree angle, leaning back as far as I can while grasping the cold steel stucture, trying to keep the cart from plummeting down the ramp and plunging into the drink at the bottom, or -I'm trying to pull a sum of weight that would stress a mule up the incline, all the while fighting gravity and an urge to just give up and let it careen down into the bay. Once in a while there is a good samaritan who, whether out of pity for my plight or fear that they may have to give me CPR and mouth to mouth if I suffer a heart attack on the ramp, will step up and give me a hand. It's not uncommon though for someone to wait patiently at the top of the ramp while you struggle to the summit, red faced and eyes bulging, all the while panting like you were going to deliver a baby any second. It's kind of like being in the Olympics. It really tests your endurance. So far I've been up to the challenge, but I'm thinking that in the near future I may be utilizing the downtown float. You can drive down it and unload your stuff directly onto the boat. It would be a lot easier for everyone involved and would eliminate the fear of a mouth to mouth encounter with a bearded fisherman.

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