Buoy Stealing



Is it really “stealing when the buoys wash up on shore?

It certainly felt theftworthy as we dragged the 15-foot-long metal rod, buoys, a giant orange ball and a 40-foot tangle of rope, half a mile to the house.

And when I say we,” I mean Martin and Mike.

“Why are we doing this again?” Martin asked at the start.

“Because Jo found it,” Mike said.

“Ssh, be quiet… the Partridge family,” I said, ducking as we passed a bungalow nicknamed for its bright, blocky paint job, straight from the ’70s. It was nearly dark and through a dining room window, we could see the family eating as we struggled along the nearby path.

None of this was part of the plan. Initially, we ventured to the beach to watch the sunset — me and Mike and Martin. But cresting the bluff I spotted a florescent orange something bobbing in the surf. The guys laughed when I struggled to pull it from the waves — tumbling back and falling down twice. But they weren’t laughing when I announced we’d be carrying it back. “It” — the pole and dangling gear — over the dunes, past the Partridge house, across the road and up our drive.

“I found it and it’s mine and we’re taking it home!” I yelled, dismissing future transportation problems.

The guys, being good sports, (and all of us buzzing on cocktails) hoisted the load and trudged along. It was awkward, sweaty work, but that didn’t seem to bother them.

The issue was the smell. That dank, skanky reek of ocean rot.

“Ug, this is so foul,” Mike finally said. “I think this nastiness is coming off the rope.”

“No, it’s on the metal stake,” said Martin, lugging the heavy end. “It smells like it was stuck up a whale’s butt.”

I couldn’t deny the rankness. By the time we reached the house, we smelled like ocean decay.

And when I say “we,” I mean Mike and Martin.



Posing days later — after the stink diminished.


The next day, while running errands, we noticed that we weren’t the only ones hauling runaway fishing equipment from the sea. Several driveways were marked with stakes, buoys and markers, which were lashed to entry gates and mailboxes. Apparently, the tide carried lots of commercial lobster and fishing gear to the island’s far end.

Once sobriety and commonsense kicked in, I announced that we’d be leaving my great find behind, in the hopes that the homeowners would appreciate it and find a practical use. The guys gave me that “all that effort for nothing?” look. But I’d moved on to another souvenir: a skimboard, also coughed-up by the ocean at sunset.

The skimboard is cool-looking and it fit easily into the car. More importantly, it was just sandy.

It didn’t smell anything like a whale’s rear end.





Mitch 2013



Wander the beaches rimming the island of Martha’s Vineyard and you’re sure to spot spontaneous, surf-side art. In past years we’ve admired rocks walls, a fire pit encircled in clam shells, and a driftwood bunker set in the dunes. Always unmanned by their creators.



Brynn patching the rock wall of 2011


This year it was all about Mitch 2013.

Martin and I were walking along the beach — the kids and family were a squint-worthy distance behind us — when Martin noticed it.

It was away from the water, hugging the sandy bluff: a sturdy chair framed with lumber, enhanced with driftwood and oddities that had washed ashore.

The chair builder had decorated the seat with all sorts of debris — trash, such as plastic grocery bags and water bottles, and natural sea debris —  shells and lobster claws. Fishing rope bound the frame and was wattled overhead for shade.


The throne


Martin and I admired the chair and tested it out (slightly reclined, very comfortable). Only when I sat down, did I notice the builder’s signature among stones and shells:




It was so cool… we wanted to share it. So the next afternoon, we took the kids and Mike to see Mitch’s creation. As the kids hopped around, I sat down on the throne and scanned the chair for details missed during our first visit.

“Look at this arrow,” I said, pointing to a notch carved into the right armrest. “What do you think this arrow means? Maybe ‘This way, north’? Or is it pointing to a constellation? Maybe it’s saying, ‘this way to the closest liquor store,'” I added, extracting an unlabeled liquor bottle plugged purposefully into a post.




Mike shrugged, Martin stayed silent and we quietly sipped our drinks.

Five or 10 minutes passed before Hadley screamed, startling us from our solitary thoughts. She leapt from her location beside the chair, where she had been sifting through the sand.

Eww!” she yelled. “I just found poop!” She stood frozen, her fingers splayed.

I sized up the kid, then followed her horrified stare. A quick glance confirmed her discovery.

Yes, she’d unearthed poop.

“Quick! Run down to the ocean and scrub your hands,” I said as Hadley streaked toward the waves. “And then grab a handful of sand and scrub again!” I yelled at her fleeing form.

I surveyed the scene and caught Mike’s eye. We stared at one another.

He was the first to say it.

“Well… I guess we figured out what the arrow was pointing at…”

Mitch, you kidder….





Beach Week 2013


Hey there, folks. We have just returned from our annual family beach vacation.

And you heard it here first: There are still remote outposts around the world, tucked away, beyond the internet’s ‘tendrilous reach.

Like our vacation house on Martha’s Vineyard.

Normally, I blame Funny Farm silence on technological limitations. But this time, no fib. We rented a newer house — a spacious, contemporary home with ocean views, privacy, and great beach access.

And a tenuous web connection.


That’s a good thing if you’re trying to unwind.


But no so favorable when it comes to blogging.

So what have we learned from this summer? What’s the take home message?

Well, we’ve learned that Beirut offers better internet service than some American beach rentals.

Then again, you’re less likely to be kidnapped by Syrian rebels on Martha’s Vineyard…

There’s always a silver lining.