There is nothing quite like walking on wet sand alone, before dusk and sunset dazzle the sky with darkening clouds. Blue layered behind grey, with momentary ribbons of purple or red, orange, searing gold, as if the sun is dying every night above the bay, past the firehouse and the post office, the Coast Guard barracks, tennis courts and playground.

No one seems to notice the flamboyant farewell, except perhaps the quieting birds whose varied tracks criss and cross, like words written in Arabic or Chinese, right to left. The tide coming in, smoothes the jumbled sand, erasing all traces of flip-flopped, barefooted, booted, or sneakered footprints.

There is nothing quite like walking on an empty beach, bright red lifeguard stands laid back for the night, still useful as markers, minor milestones so I do not lose my way. As much as this place has not changed since last summer, so much has drifted away.

The very ground I walk on is no longer familiar at low or high tide. I do not know if it is because we have never been here in August. The horizon with the rusted mast of an old shipwreck to the distance of the slowly blinking lighthouse beacon cannot hold all that is different, anymore than the Big Dipper could hold dying stars and fireflies that coincide with nightfall.

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