Since 1999 Richard and Judith Lang have focused their attention on just 1000 yards of tide line where they have collected plastic washing ashore on Kehoe Beach in the Point Reyes National Seashore. Although the news about plastic pollution is dire, they bring the excitement of scouting for treasures and the pleasure of the creative life to an otherwise difficult topic.
Sunday, March 8, 2015
by Jane Hirschfeld
So many things you’d not have thought of until they were given.
Even the simple— a cottage cheese sandwich, a heron’s contractable neck.
You eat. You look. Then you look back and it’s over.
This life. This flood— unbargained for as lasting love was— of lasting oddness.
Maybe it was because after giving up eating sea food...
Seafood indeed! — Not that we don't love it in all it's iterations: sushi, canned, scallops quick-fried in butter, oysters, chowder, even gefilte fish, but—For God's sake!! Its sea life not sea food, as our friend Sylvia Earle calls it — who encouraged us to give up eating things that come out of the water; to give the ocean a break. We'd sooner eat a rabbit than a halibut. We think it's time to give the ocean a break. Market hunting was banned with the Lacey Act of 1900 — hunting then selling wild animals. Aren't tuna the leopards of the sea? So when Jane Hirshfield's poem mentioned "Herons" we heard "Herring" as in cottage cheese and herring sandwiches. Mmmmmmm...herring, maybe just this time...
Every morning during our commute to San Francisco we listen to Garrison Keillor's The Writers Almanac. Two days a week we are together. But, on this day, March 5, we were each separately in our own cars, tuned in and both heard "Herring" not Heron — wishful thinking? Judith calls from the car...yes we both heard and loved the poem. And so, as a offering of affection, in honor of our "unbargained for as lasting love was—" at the store that evening Richard picked up a jar of "forbidden" herring and some cottage cheese for our sandwiches the next day.
Next day, and giddy with the thought, that we had actually recreated THAT poetic sandwich, we sat down to lunch together in front of the computer. Wary of the "lasting oddness," of a strange sandwich, we punched up the Almanac to enjoy reading the poem while we enjoyed our meal. Sandwich—not bad—but the line was "heron's" not "herring."
Oh well, food from the ever shriveling sea was pretty tasty after all, and lasting love is still lasting in it's oddness.