Sunday, March 15, 2009

Signs of Spring

Cape Cod Weather Today: Kind of cloudy and 37 degrees. It never got really warm yesterday, but somehow that spring feeling is still in the air...

So I never did walk the neighborhood to look for signs of spring. At least, not with my camera. I'm still walking the dogs and seeing the signs, but not documenting them. I need to.

Of course, the first time I thought of the camera this week and DIDN'T bring it along, we saw a baby seal up on our beach. Just sitting there, up by the dune, sunning itself. It's fur was still the color of sand, with a few dark mottled spots, and it looked no larger than our dogs (okay, the dogs are pushing 100 pounds, so it wasn't tiny by any stretch. Big enough to take care of itself.) Maybe he was looking for a little spring sunshine to bask in as well... do the sea creatures get as tired of winter as we humans do?

The dogs found it and woke it up. We were lagging behind, talking about his work and my latest hassle with my Brownie troop (not with the girls but with their mothers)... and we realized the dogs not talking to another dog on the beach but a sea creature.

There had been a large, fully grown, very dead seal on our beach last March. And the November before, a youngish seal had beached itself on our beach and the stranding network had to be called. Another time last spring when we were walking further down the shoreline (not on our beach) the dogs surprised an adult seal who was sunning itself... it took off at a surprisingly fast clip, barking all the way to the water.

This was our first encounter with a seal this young. And I didn't have my camera.

It must have come out of the water at high tide, because it was way up the beach, near the dunes. Madison and the seal went nose to nose, sniffing each other for a while - I mean, in the stop-action-frame-by-frame of the moment, it seemed like forever, but it was probably more like a minute that they were actually in each other's faces. Long enough for my husband and I to catch up and watch the scene unfold.

When the baby woke up enough, or maybe recognized "Hey, you don't smell right, you're not a seal," the baby gave a final "huff" and started pulling itself down the beach toward the water's edge, through the seaweed and shells. Madison followed at a discreet distance, as if not sure why this creature didn't get up and run on legs (the seals have powerful front flippers, but no rear legs only its tail.) Montana stayed behind, sniffing in the spot where the seal had been lying. As soon as the baby reached the water it smoothly submerged and didn't resurface until it was a good mile from shore.

Today I'll bring the camera. Maybe I'll get lucky and the curious baby will come back. Or maybe I'll just photograph some other signs of spring. Either way, I guess it really is right around the corner.

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