Black Tideline

Pensecola Beach on the island of Santa Rosa–National Seashore–Fort Pickens. Ruins of a 19th century fort–brick, ruined curves, like a Piranese sketch of something classical….oddly beautiful in the way of ruined things with a neoclassical shape…built by slaves. Huge cannon–thinking how frightening these must have looked in the eras before bombs. And a shock–the haunted faces of captured Apaches on a Park Service flyer–Geronimo was imprisoned here so far from home. More recent fortifications–1st and 2nd World Wars.
The beach is long and flat and perfect and exquisitely white–pure white sand beach. The oil spill is covered by sand. We did dig down six inches–the amount we were told at the visitor’s center–but found no oil. The tideline, though, was black in places…a black lace of petroleum on the white white sand. It was in rice grains, not clumps–whether natural or chemical decomposition I cannot tell.
There has been a great deal of clean-up here. But tourism is certainly down–we were the only people on the beach although traffic picked up towards lunch. I soaked in a hot tub and swam in the heated pool and picked up shells and saw the dark distinctive humped shapes of pelicans cross the sky and the orange ball of the sun drop.
The volunteer at the visitor’s center claimed to not be eating fish due to the oil spill. I am eating fish, but then again, I am a brief tourist.

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