Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Shed Seaweed

My son in law and I were sitting on a log this afternoon and the tide was coming in with strong wind and moderate wave action. For the past two weeks there has been a big shedding of sea lettuce and sundry other seaweed carried in by the tidal action. There is a lot of lateral tide movement on our beach as well, and the accessible part of the beach that welcomes the weed is about a five hundred feet long. After a few days, the weed tossed up on the beach dries on the surface and loses much of it's salinity and its definition. In the olden days I used to collect much of this material for compost and top dressing. The ocean gives up its sea lettuce in August and its eel grass in October, both of them gifted to those who scavenge the shore for that kind of treasure. I have always had a fantasy that if I had a donkey and a two wheel cart I could walk the shore and pitchfork the drying weed into my cart with a lot more ease than trying to haul it up my 12 steps from the beach in a garbage pail. In the distant past my earlier Irish generations used this gift to create soil from barren stoney headlands. It was where they were banished to from the fertile valley lands that were usurped from them. As we looked at the drying weed I thought, "The line of drying weed at the tidemark is evenly ten feet wide over the five hundred foot length. It averages two inches thick!" By my calculation that is 833.3 cubic feet of compost from that little area. What the sea gives up today it will take back tomorrow unless we act! I wish I had a donkey and a large two wheeled cart and another life span.

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