I could tell it was early fall just by the temperature of the sand and water. The sand was cool, while the water temperature was hovering around 70º. It almost seemed like the ocean was defrosting your feet once you stepped in.
The waves were so small I had surf down the beach from my usual spot to pick up more of the south swell. I caught a couple as a man observed from the beach with a cup of coffee in hand. Even with the distant company, I felt like I was all by myself out there. Or at least I felt like it was just me and the animals. A pod of dolphin swam by. I dunked under the water because I heard my friend Todd tell someone once that you can hear them talking when they swim past if you submerge your own ears. I couldn't hear them today, though. The only audible noise was the muffled sound of the crashing waves. Everything sounds so different under there. It made me wonder if those dolphin were popping their heads up to see if they could hear what I sounded like. I was singing at some point, but I'm not sure they really wanted to listen to that.
I rode my last wave in and began walking up the beach. Because of the high tide, I had to wade in the water to get around a seawall and it was then that I stepped on a stingray. It's never happened to me before, by some miracle I think, but when it happened I knew immediately what it was. He didn't get me too bad. Just a little prick on my left toe, but it was already throbbing like a bee sting once I got to my parents' house.
I thought maybe, just maybe, those guys might leave me alone because I try to pick up trash to keep them safe, but really it was me that stepped on him. A part of me is glad the stingrays haven't changed their ways despite the increase in beach goers over time. I want them to keep on doing as they do. Eating where they need to eat, sunbathing where they like. I'm the one entering their home, so I guess I need to remember to watch my step.