Yesterday, strong winds curbed our kayaking ambition. Rather than venture all the way out to one of the islands, we floated out only as far as the sandbar. A 10 minute paddle away and marked by sea grass that disappears completely at high tide, this spot is where we go for short trips when we want to get on the water, content to be jostled about. At low tide a nice little beach is exposed and we can park the boat up on the sand. We wade through the water, watch the birds, the clouds, the waves, the shimmer of light and shadow on the water, dig our toes beneath the sand. We don’t talk much, absorbing the bliss.
Yesterday, overwhelmed by the beauty I said, “There’s something magical about this little spot, isn’t there?” It feels a bit like that patch is ours.
The tide was heading out it was still too high – no parking the kayak yet – but R hopped out into the water to stretch his legs and let the current swirl around his knees as I paddled over to the grasses, the plastic boat heaving but held steady by the Moses-reeds. Peaceful. Finally, I floated back to R and we agreed to head back. With the kayak and my gaze pointed towards shore, I felt R climb in and pushed my paddle into the water.
“Wait. We have to go back,” R said. “I had the car key in my pocket and it must have fallen out. We have to look for it.”
Silently, I guffawed. The Long Island Sound still around our calves even at the most shallow spot around us. We’re supposed to look for a key in the water? Certainly a case for lost causes, I thought. Were I a believer I’d be praying to Saint Jude. In any case, I hopped out of the boat and began scanning the rippling water, grateful that these days, it’s clean enough to easily see the bottom.
“It’s my only key. I only have this one left,” R said philosophically with a smile, not ready to get despondent yet.
At least the tide was going out and not in — the sandbar would soon be exposed — instead of disappearing even more underwater with an incoming tide. Still, this was no gentle retreat. The water billowed around us, the sandbank churning broken clam shells, stones, mussel shells with each new wave. Creating, I thought, new layers for us to dig through. I flashed on the rest of our afternoon sifting through our beloved sandbar, surrounded by piles of wet sand. Or maybe we could enlist some guy with a metal detector to lend us a hand. We’d have to kayak him out with that crazy apparatus to save the day. Maybe.
Zeroing in on a dark object, I plunged my hand into the water hoping this might be the rubber end of the car key. Mussel shells look a lot like car keys in a foot of water. I took off my sunglasses hoping to see a little better. A few minutes later, a flash of what might be metal was the inside of a piece of oyster shell.
Impossible. No way we could find R’s single key in all of this churning water and shifting sand. I thought again of lost causes, of Saints, of prayer – something I don’t do much, vague as I am in belief. Yet I have a sense of not really ever being alone, of being watched over. Mostly, by those that have loved me. I do believe in love and think it impossible that love can just disappear, poof! – be gone. Sometimes, I’ll have a silent chat. And yesterday, while poking around for a key in a sandbar, I did just that. Maybe that’s a prayer. And maybe it’s just a coincidence, or perhaps just luck — but in all that water swirling around on our magic sandbar, I found the key.