Monday, August 31, 2009

Fire Island's Famous Plover Lovers

"You're camping right?"
It's raining, my bag is heavy and the mosquitoes are biting me through my knee-length socks. I leave Chris to talk to the annoying German woman and continue along the boardwalk.
"Don't you know there's a hurricane coming?"
Bitch. I throw her a bitter smile and keep trudging forward.
"Just stay clear of sites 23, 24 and 26. And 18. Then you should be alright."
Turns out German woman is a park ranger. And she's not kidding about the hurricane.

We manage to pitch our tent and gradually the rain dries up long enough to have a walk on the beach. It's the end of plover breeding season and there are dozens of the critters playing chicken with the tide, bustling after the drying rings of wet sand and away from the white horses. Their bodies don't seem to keep pace with their whirring legs, like tiny dancers who've perfected their isolations.

After a couple of beers on the beach Chris and I are dancing too, practicing lifts and handstands and cartwheels. We get inquisitive looks from the plovers and the surfers riding the swells. Unlike us, they are here for the storm, which is supposed to break tonight.

Next morning after a sleepless night in a wind-lashed tent and a renewed mosquito attack ("I thought they weren't supposed to like the rain?") we give it up, wave goodbye to the plovers and go home to civilization, and to Brooklyn.

The Ranger flashes a told-you-so smile as we huddle under our umbrellas in the line for the ferry.

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