”What is she doing there?” James asked.
" I don’t know, probably the same thing we’re doing." Dylan replied, though he did not seem confident. They elected to hold their position, safely secluded in the thick underbrush, and observe the woman awhile before moving on to the beach. After all, this was a relatively unknown and much less traveled portion of the cliffs, and if this woman were some sort of baroness or the like that owned her piece of a private beach, the two did not want to alert her to their presence, and thus be barred from further exploration. They sat awhile, squatting on the elevated shoulder of the dirt path in the forest, two misplaced gargoyles, perching and looking out onto the beach and beyond into the ocean, cyan and light gray, like slate, or blue eyes remembering something.
They tucked into their rations - cashews, raisins, water. They watched her a while longer, sitting on the beach, autumn hair behind her, something in her hands, or maybe just sitting in the sand in front of her. She seemed to be thinking something over. She seemed like she had been there forever. Then, without fanfare, her family came into view from the south, and passed across the boys’ field of vision.
They greeted the woman, and she welcomed them, and tossed whatever it was that she was holding into the sea, and they never would know what it was, whether it mattered or not. She tossed it casually, so whatever it was, was either unimportant, or she had already resigned herself to be rid of it. Now that she was no longer alone, appearing to be just the mother of a family that had found the private portion of beach just as they had, and the boys were satisfied that they would not be setting upon the lady Calvert herself that would forever banish them from the cliffs, they decided to descend from their cover and take the beach, and begin their search in earnest for the beast’s teeth.
Is this it? No. I think this is it. Let me check the map. In front is physically a bright rectangle and empirically the sound of moving water. To the right is a bona fide peat swamp harboring sauropods from the 1940s between its shattered timbers. To the left is lizard laden deciduousness on an upward bank. Between front and left is a leafy service road and the topic of discussion. After deliberation both ways are looked (in that slyly guilty way) and then there is affirmative movement. It is new movement in which normality has been replaced by uncertain gall.
This can’t be right. It’s right. Check the map again. Negotiation of many a wooden obstacle on the first hill. The floor is an exact likeness of the northern copperhead and a red-eared slider is nearly trampled in haste. Twig and thorn absorb and release kinetic energy much against their will. Mud, bugs, and bamboo reach critical levels. The same evolutionary forces that prompted the situation begin to unravel it. It is only a naive and distinctly human ordering that elevates prehistoric lamniformes above the currently offending flora and fauna.
What do we do now? What google says. Okay. Several minutes are lost for all time, save for a single hope. The next thing you know there is deliverance in the form of arcing ridge-line trail, offering raised embankment to right and foliated view of a reedy micro delta to left. In front is a smaller but more profound than ever bright light rectangle. Smooth sand and turgid sea pixellate (or pointillate) between leaves at a particularly fine overlook. The elation of arrival is suddenly confounded by the first discovery. Meters in front and below, a woman lies prostrate to the surf, an unknown object (clearly an offering to Poseidon) before her.
“The massive cliffs from which Calvert Cliffs SP was named dominates the shoreline of the Chesapeake Bay for thirty miles in Calvert County and were formed over 15 million years ago when all of Southern Maryland was covered by a warm, shallow sea. When the sea receded 20-25 million years ago, marking the end of the Miocene period, cliffs were exposed and began eroding. Today these cliffs reveal the remains of prehistoric species Including sharks, whales, rays, and seabirds that were the size of small airplanes.” - http://www.dnr.state.md.us/publiclands/southern/calvertcliffs.asp
We arrived at the dental depository known as Calvert Cliffs at mid day. There are several entrances to the beach, carpeted beneath the ancient, doomed cliffs, craggy and sloping, crumbling and disappearing a little more each day. Among those entrances, there are some that are more ‘sanctioned’ than others. And as any toddler with a bucket and a plastic shovel has access to the sanctioned entrances, we had our eyes on the somewhat more…clandestine points of entry.
We exchanged pleasantries with the ranger at the gateway to the parking lot, and paid our entry fee.
”Hey, Schlitz, it’s been awhile since I’ve seen one of those.” The ranger said, remarking upon James’ souvenir glass, roguishly tossing off sunbeams in the back seat of his car.
”Yeah, I should probably take it out.” Jim said. We had no time for small talk. We parked the car, and stepped out into the open air, and put on our packs. All of the feasibly accessible routs to the beach begin at a single trail head, just past a bridge built over a sluggish pond. We entered through the trail head, and began walking, making our way through the forest that lead to the beach, waiting for our moment to break off from the trail, and find our own private piece of the cliff.
"I’m talkin’ about workin’ for a livin’. I’m talkin’ about sharkin’."
It’s mid-morning and warm. It’s clear and there’s some wind. The conditions are favorable, and it’s a good day to do what we woke up to do. My partner James knocks on the door and I greet him. We head downstairs quickly, as we have miles yet to go before we even begin. We step outside and the quick heat on the skin only confirms the kind of day we already hoped it would be. In his back seat I see a samurai sword, a hockey stick, and a Schlitz beer glass. He’s a man prepared for anything. We take our seats and he pulls out of the parking lot and we start on our way, going east. We’re heading towards salt water. We’re heading towards shark teeth.