He's dead...or maybe sick..or maybe he moved on. Maybe he never existed. In any case he's gone.

There's a beach I've gone to for about 10 years. I mainly go when no-one else is there. I go to walk, to think, to sing, to be alone. About 4 years ago I began smelling woodsmoke on a certain stretch of the beach, especially early in the morning in the winter. This section of the beach is isolated and about 1 mile from any houses, so there really wasn't a logical explanation for the smoke. It was never much, just a whiff.... a slight softness in the air, and I never could see the source. I decided that a hermit lived in the thick brush above the beach and I began looking for signs of his existence. I never saw anything. But I felt his presence. At first I would have a feeling of being watched. I never felt danger or threatened and after awhile I learned to accept that feeling as part of the beauty of that isolated stretch of beach. I thought occasionally of leaving gifts, but decided that if he ever wanted to break his seclusion it would be up to him. I never told anyone about him, afraid that they'd either try to convince me not to go there, or someone would try to find him. I still don't know if he even existed.

Now he's gone. No more smoke. No more feeling of being watched. No more sharing that wonderful stretch of beach with someone else who loves it like I do. I wonder if he knows how I felt about him? I miss him.