April may be winding down, but the cold weather still hangs on. Sunday morning I carefully crossed the snow covered rocks to the beach on my way to forage the low tide.
Our current tide cycle isn’t the lowest of the year, but it’s the lowest one of the spring. We’re preparing the gardens for the coming growing season. As in years past, we use the lowest April tide to gather sea stars to fertilize the garden.
Saturday’s tide actually hit the lowest mark of this cycle, -3.9 feet, but I gave that tide up to go to town for the first day of the annual Hospice Rummage Sale. Seeing heavy winds predicted for Sunday in the weather report, I decided to cross the bay in the lighter winds, and beachcomb on the windy day, because I could go back home and get a hot drink as soon as I needed it.
I knew before I reached the water’s edge that I needn’t have waited for such a low tide. Forty knot (46+ m.p.h.) winds whipped the fjord into combers that slammed into the cobble beach, preventing me from getting any closer than a couple of yards from the water’s edge. I headed south with my back to the wind, knowing I’d have a colder walk home. Sea stars tend to gather in the south corner, where the urchins usually are to be found.
I found nothing. No urchins, nothing more than a single, tiny sea star. I filled my buckets with seaweed, some of which I’ll eat, but most of which will go on the garden. Then I headed home. My hands, encased in vinyl fish processing gloves and cloth liners, had grown numb merely from the wind—I couldn’t stay out much longer.
The forecast said the day would grow sunny, and reach the low 40s. May 1st, the beginning of summer by our reckoning, is just around the corner. But, as I picked my way up the beach through the snow, everything but winter seemed years away.