By Muriel Rukeyser
In the cave with a long-ago flare
a woman stands, her arms up. Red twig, black twig, brown twig.
A wall of leaping darkness over her.
The men are out hunting in the early light
But here in this flicker, one or two men, painting
and a woman among them.
Great living animals grow on the stone walls,
their pelts, their eyes, their sex, their hearts,
and the cave-painters touch them with life, red, brown, black,
a woman among them, painting.
Wednesday the forecast had been for occasional thunderstorms, but other than some very early rain, we had an absolutely gorgeous day along the shore. After a late breakfast, we spent the rest of the morning and half the afternoon first at the beach, then at the pool that's just up the steps from the beach beneath Sea Colony's condominiums. It was once again quite crowded due to the beautiful weather. Despite clearing skies, the waves were rougher than yesterday, churning up lots of sand and knocking people about in the water; it was harder to find mole crabs and also harder to avoid being hit by people surfing in on out of control boogie boards! The kids spent much of the time in the pool with my parents while Paul and I mostly stayed in the ocean, going to the pool near the end of our time down there to play catch with one of those water-filled soft footballs. We did not see the dolphins but we did see a huge horseshoe crab, unfortunately on its last legs, and many of the usual shore birds and clams.
In the evening after dinner at the condo we went to the boardwalk in Ocean City. A lot of things at the beach seem smaller than I remember from my childhood (Phillips Restaurant, for instance, the other night, and many of the stores), but the boardwalk seems to have tripled in size. While many of the iron-on t-shirt places have been replaced by tattoo parlors and Candy Kitchens, the kitsch shops and waterside musicians and ice cream parlors have only increased in number, and there were three arcades between 12th Street and the end of the boardwalk alone -- I am sure there were more headed into the higher numbers. A blues band was playing down by the amusement park but we didn't sit and listen, as it was already dark. The amusement park area itself was absolutely mobbed (there's also a Ripley's Believe It Or Not added since I was last in Ocean City) and the kids weren't interested in riding, so most of our boardwalking involved strolling, browsing in the kitsch stores, eating ice cream, dodging the trams and wandering into the sand to the play equipment there. It was what I think of as a classic beach day: surf, swimming and boardwalk.
And the 9th Street entrance to the boardwalk, between an ice cream stand and an arcade.
This is one of the most insanely crowded areas of Ocean City.
So much so that trams run up and down the concrete barrier schlepping people for a couple of bucks each.
One sees quite a bit of this on the less crowded sections of beach: people with kites competing for sky space with gulls.
Besides Candy Kitchen, shirt places remain among the most popular shopping attractions. During my youth there was an iron-on t-shirt store literally every hundred feet. Now they're slightly more spread out but still around!
And there are musicians and artists: bluegrass banjo players, folk guitarists doing bad versions of Dylan, a girl trying not very successfully to twirl batons to raise money to travel to Nationals, this violinist who, accompanied by prerecorded piano, was playing songs from The Phantom of the Opera...
...and what's the beach without scenes from the Bible sculpted in the sand? :p There was a Last Supper, too.