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To The Beach

Cricket loves bird poop. To be fair, she loves poop of all kinds. When she goes to the beach, she noses every pole and bench and wooden slat, and she can inspect one blade of grass for hours if an animal has left traces behind. She is a one dog C.S.I. team.

"I think smell bird poop!"

“I think smell bird poop!”

The most likely offender

The most likely offender

Both of my dogs love the beach, and my Mom loves the beach, but I don’t. I feel itchy and grumpy and inexplicably hopeless there. I force myself to go, like I force myself to take vitamins, because it’s supposed to be good for me.

Sunset

Sunset

We got into the habit of walking along the boardwalk at the beach for twenty minutes or so a day when we lived at the old apartment. I was already struggling to walk right, and Mom hoped that the fresh air, and the soft wood planks under my feet, and of course, the handrails, would help.

Mom believes that the smell of the seaweed, and the swirling patterns of the seagulls, and the sound of the waves have a healing power. She takes her camera along and charts the changing character of the water.

A treasure trove of smells

A treasure trove of smells

summer 2008 to winter 2009 077

IMG_2279summer 2008 to winter 2009 079

When we moved to the new apartment we stopped our daily trips to the beach. The extra ten or fifteen minute drive was a good excuse, but not the real reason. Despite endless attempts, I still hated the briny taste of the air, and the indifference of the seagulls, and the squawking predatory sound they made when they circled a pile of stale bread in the parking lot. I was still afraid of the creepy crawlies that lived under the dark green water, and the slippery sea plants wrapping themselves around my ankles.

"Get off my beach!"

“Get off my beach!”

"Let go of my leash and I can reach it!"

“Just let go of my leash and I’ll go by myself.”

I forced myself to go back to the beach again in mid October. I felt silly for avoiding it, and I wanted the dogs to have a chance to socialize with other dogs, on leashes, and to sniff new things that don’t live in my backyard. Once again, the girls loved it, and Mom loved it, and I didn’t.

I sound like a curmudgeon. Beaches are supposed to be inspiring and life giving and romantic, and instead, they make me feel like life is not worth living. Even watching Butterfly sniff every spot Cricket had just sniffed couldn’t quite cheer me up. And I don’t know why. There are too many mysteries like this that I can’t resolve.

I’ll go back again, eventually, if only to make my family happy. In the meantime, I walk by the local pond instead. I nod to the ducks, and look up as packs of geese fly by, and shake my fist at the signs that say my dogs are not welcome in this lovely place, where Cricket could sniff bird poop to her heart’s content.

Bird Island, where no dogs may roam

Bird Island, where no dogs may roam

"So there!"

“So there!”

(All pictures in this post taken by Naomi Mankowitz – aka Grandma)

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About rachelmankowitz

I am a fiction writer, a writing coach, and an obsessive chronicler of my dogs' lives.

117 responses »

  1. Oh no! If you don’t like the beach, we can’t be friends!

    Reply
  2. I am extremely fair-skinned, and Emmy, Loki and I prefer a good creek or river with lots of shade for reading and lolling to the beach. Love the photo of a stretchy dog gazing up the stairs!

    Reply
    • My grandparents used to have a pond and a little creek in front of their house. I loved the sound of the water over the rocks, as long as I didn’t have to get into the rowboat or walk over the little bridge.

      Reply
  3. Great photography! Incredible honesty! Who knows why some people see the beauty in things while others do not? I like to look at the ocean. Love lakes and reflections in still water. But get me in them? Nope. Too many variables and things I can’t see swimmimg around an environment that is not naturally mine. Things with claws and sharp gills and teeth. Also, the sound of birds early in the morning makes me want to throw pebbles at them. Thank goodness we’re all different.

    Michelle

    Reply
  4. Well, I am with your mom: the sea has healing powers and boy do I miss it here in Ohio…but there are enough compensations here;0) Charley dog does not like poop of any kind, she is a dainty lady. I used to have a Jack Russell who would eat and bath in deer poo and react to my scoldings with a ‘ you do not know what a delectable thing this is! Eewh! Greta post and beautiful photos, I bow to the both of you!

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    • Cricket doesn’t roll in the poop the way my last dog used to do (Dina also rolled in squirrel carcasses), but she is definitely a connoisseur of the many varieties and vintages to be smelled and savored.

      Reply
  5. Nice walk! I bet Cricket had a great time. It’s great therapy for them as well.

    Reply
  6. Captivating shots and a lovely read. Makes me want to rush to a beach with my dog.

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  7. napperscompanion

    I hear you. There’s something inexplicably sad about sunsets especially. Peace, John

    Reply
  8. Beautiful photos. It’s a shame you can’t take the dogs to Bird Island since you like it better there. I hope you will find a new spot that you enjoy and that welcomes Cricket and Butterfly.

    Reply
    • I just went to dinner at a house with a fourteen year old shitzu who did not bark at all. I think, if I could convince my girls to pretend to be fourteen year old shitzus, I could sneak them in anywhere.

      Reply
  9. Your local pond sounds just as lovely as any beach. 🙂

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  10. There’s a German word, Schadenfraude, which means deriving pleasure from others’ pain. I don’t know it there’s an equivalent word which means taking pleasure from watching others’ pleasure. You might enjoy Butterfly and Cricket enjoying themselves.

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  11. I don’t love the beach either. At least in Texas sand gets into everything, there’s often trash and tar, and many years there are jellyfish. Ick!

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  12. What lovely pictures! I’m sorry you didn’t have a good time. Mom loves the beach. I haven’t gone yet, being so fair-skinned with very light paws, she was afraid I’d get burnt on the sand. Maybe next year!

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  13. You made me think of my friend who lives close by but closer to Delaware river than I. His yard’s considered a bird sanctuary. Hawks, finches and many many more species. His bride familiar with their migratory patterns days etc. One things for sure a wealth of poop with a constantly changing menu could be consumed there. You are a riot and I totally get you.

    Reply
  14. Oh dear! You won’t like our latest post then😱

    Reply
  15. I used to proclaim my detest for the beach. Sand is a such a terrible pest. But then I lived right on the beach for 4 years. I never really went onto the beach, but just having it there, was terribly comforting. And then, I had to move. And I no longer have the option of staring at the sea, and it kills me. I think I’ll be spending the rest of my life trying to get back to the shore.

    Reply
    • This is what wall murals are for, no? My mom listens to “sounds of the beach” music in order to get to sleep at night, and it seems to help. It’s better than the thunderstorm CD which scares the bejeesus out of Butterfly.

      Reply
  16. I’ve nothing against the beach personally. Does nothing for me and the dogs don’t like going there. I love mountains – so I move to the arid lands of the flattest state in the Commonwealth of Australia. Makes sense, I think…

    Reply
    • It’s easier to carry a dog in a sling on flat ground, you were just planning ahead. Cricket loves mountains. She thinks she can pull me up the Adirondacks just by the power of her will. I think she may be right.

      Reply
  17. I haven’t been to the shore in many years – I love the sound of the waves, and the smell of the ocean. But all of us see things through different eyes – I also love thunderstorms and they scare the bejinkees out of a lot of people. I hate snow – I can see no beauty in it at all. There are those who think that cold, whiteness is wonderful – I see achy bones and skidding off roads and nothing to love at all.

    Max also loves poop. Deer poop is a delicacy, I don’t think he’s ever experienced sea gull poop!

    Reply
  18. I dearly miss the sound of the waves crashing against the rocks and many other pleasures of the central coast of California. My Miss Priss must be some relation to your Cricket. I have a hard time keeping her away from dog poop. She much prefers the front yard to the fenced in back yard but at least when she’s in the back yard I know what’s back there.

    Reply
  19. We are all surprised that the beach is an unpleasant environment for you, Rachel. To us all, the liminal point between land and sea is beyond price, full of possibilities. I wonder what it is that deep down disturbs your psyche? Pip

    Reply
  20. Me too, Cricket. Maybe when we eat enough of this “bird manure” we will grow bigger?

    Reply
  21. Perhaps you don’t like the beach because it isn’t the right beach. That beach doesn’t look very inviting. I like in Northern Virginia, and although the beach is about 3 hours away, when I can get there I get that butterfly feeling inside my chest. The excitement I felt when I was a child. I have many fond memories of being at the beach as a child. I haven’t been in a long time. I don’t like lying out in the sand when I’m down there. I do like walking up and down the boardwalk, eating Thrashers French Fries, and funnel cake, playing arcade games, riding some of the rides (the ones that don’t make you throw up), and having the woman behind the boot try to guess my age. I also like getting hotel room with a balcony that overlooks the beach and the ocean. I like being out there in the early morning, and watching the sun rise over the ocean, smelling the salt are, listening to the waves crash.

    You know what, now I need to go down there! Maybe next weekend.

    Reply
  22. Hurrah for the seaside!! Having lived all my life close to water I would miss it if I wasn’t near it. I think the doggies would too but that just may be wishful thinking on my part. As for liking poo, Luz Maria and Diego are very fond of deer poo and our frequent deer visitors are happy to oblige. 🙂

    Reply
  23. As a bona fide beach lover, your hesitancy to embrace the ocean and the beach, but I accept it. I applaud you for going for the good of your dogs at least. It takes a lot to do something for others (even dogs) when it is truly something we find unpleasant. I applaud your efforts! And who knows, maybe just being there you do get recharged?

    Reply
  24. What is it with dogs and other animals’ poop? I haven’t mentioned that Poppy also loves to clean the cat litter pans of kitty rocca. And when we go out to my friends’ bison ranch, Esmé is always so grateful that their dog shares his horses’ poop with her. Sheesh!

    Reply
  25. Great entry! I’m not sure if any of my dogs have been to the beach before.

    Reply
  26. I’m more of a mountain person myself – don’t really like the sea, don’t go in it and can’t understand why people sit and look at it all day. Love the feeling of peace and serenity in the hills:)

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  27. Oh no! how can you not like the beach?
    this is one of my favourite places

    Reply
  28. Beautiful photos! Life’s a beach. 🙂
    I think it is nice that you take your little ones and mom to the beach, even if it is not your preferred venue for fun! Have a great day, Rachel. Oh, and thank you for your “likes” on Curls and Carrots. The support means a lot!
    Warmly,
    Shanna

    Reply
  29. Loved the photos and I have to say, I think you’re the first dog person I’ve ever “met” who doesn’t like the beach. LOL.

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  30. My dogs love rabbit poop so I can relate 🙂

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  31. Rabbit poop. Our dogs go crazy for it. Perfectly little round kibble-looking treats. Drives ME crazy.

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  32. Naomi, you’re a wonderful photographer! I enjoyed your photo tour of the beach so much. Rachel, I feel for your aversion to the beach. It’s so weird how those types of things just seem to choose us, because we certainly would never choose to have them. I have a tremendous fear of heights – anything over 2 stories is out for me, and sometimes even the second story is too much if it’s one of those exceptionally high, open areas. I hate it because I love views and scenery, and because it holds my family back sometimes from going places we’d all like to go. If you ever find a way around your dislike of the beach, pass it along to me, maybe it’ll work for heights too! 😉

    Reply
  33. Your reaction to the beach is so interesting! You said, “It makes me feel like life is not worth living.” I’m a total beach chica, but I still understand. I had a similar feeling when I went to Yosemite. Most people love Yosemite, it’s one of the most beautiful places in the world. When I went there, however; I felt this wave of doom come over me. It was so strange. Anyway, you may not like the beach, but your photos are great and I’m sure your doggies loved it! 🙂

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  34. Sad that you don’t enjoy the beach 😦 Our dogs love it so much and we never tire of seeing them run with such abandon.

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  35. Pearl would sympathise with you – she’s wary of the beach, she associates it with scary summer crowds. You photos are beautiful, I wish mine were half as good.

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  36. Curmudgeon….. Ah.. I know a few of those! So nice to hear a good solid olde English word ! I have a poo roller, her name is Pepper…..she doesn’t have a specialty – apart from the fresher the better….yack!

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  37. Here’s to ponds and wildlife poop! Cheers!
    Happy Holidays!

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  38. I love the water. My dream is to live near enough to walk it daily. I agree with your mom it has healing power.

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  39. Hi Rachel, thanks for stopping by my blog. I am wondering if your aversion for the beach may be a sensorial thing? I love the beach, but it can be very sensorially overloading – the enormous soundscape, the tactile-textural obstacles and yes the olfactory assault! Sometimes, much as I love the smell, textures and visual stimuli of the beach, I become overwhelmed by the soundscape!

    Lovely photographs!

    Reply
    • It’s interesting, because I can get very overwhelmed by noises if they are too loud or if there are too many different ones at the same time. There was a time when it was so bad I would just cover my ears while people were talking, now I just grit my teeth and wait it out. Certain smells, or any smell at a high intensity, can make me feel sick, but even more than that, trapped. I should probably look into this. Thank you!

      Reply
  40. When we were children we spent the summer holidays in the Scottish Highlands. We camped by the side of Loch Earn. We walked the country roads and climbed hills and followed old abandoned rail lines and sometimes we drove to distant places and bought ice cream, explored, and had fish and chips for tea. I loved the Highlands, the mountains and the lochs. I have never been a beach person.

    Reply
    • My Grandpa used to take us to the ice cream place near him at 6:30 in the morning when my brother and I slept over. And we’d go again later, and get bags full of candy to go with our Pistachio ice cream sundaes. I’m pretty sure that if Grandpa had taken us to the beach during those visits, I would have very different feelings about beaches. I’d feel like I was seeing my grandpa every time I stood by the water. Instead, I see him in bowls of ice cream and bags of candy. He should maybe have thought ahead a bit on that one.

      Reply
  41. Thank you for reading and liking my blog. I LOVE the beach, but you know…it’s not for everyone. 🙂 Also, have to tell you, I have a cat named Cricket.. 😉 Marie

    Reply
  42. I love the beach, and so does Chicki our Maltese. So we visit often, and enjoy it!

    Reply
  43. Pingback: Another Award! | margaret lynette sharp

  44. Foxy loves the beach. From My Leash on Life: “..I refuse to chase a ball at the beach. Unless you like the crunch of sand in your teeth, I don’t recommend it.” “After a long walk near the water, I like to eat something, clean the sand out of my paws, and take a nap. Actually, that’s what the people do too. Seaside time is relaxing for all of us.”

    Reply
  45. I don’t understand the attraction. Inside, it’s Jake’s litter box; and outside, it’s other wildlife (deer, ducks, geese, & rabbits).

    Reply

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