It's summer! It's finally felt like summer for more than one day at a time inbetween cool days that are more like early spring or late autumn. And how do we know it's summer? Is it by the number of paddlers bringing their kayaks to the beach to enjoy Cadboro Bay?
Nope. Though there are, indeed, a plethora of paddlers. Anytime there's ten cars or trucks in the parking lot at Gyro Park with kayak racks on the roof, yep, that does feel like good weather. No, the cardinal sign of summer in Cadboro Bay is a crowd of PEOPLE.
Yes, they're out in small boats of various kinds. But hundreds more are on shore. They're all over the beach. They're setting up volleyball nets in the field. Every picnic table is in use. The concrete animals (giant fish, giant octopus, Cadborosaurus and a sunken ship) are covered in young people climbing up & down. The benches have little socks and shoes displayed on the seats and backs. It's easy to get home wearing one sock, but one sandal? You'd think even a five-year-old would notice...
By commenting on the crowds on summer days, I'm not saying that the park is empty the rest of the time. Summer nights have a steady stream of people progressing along the beach or through the park. There's people here every hour of the day or night, year-round. It takes a wet snowstorm on a winter's night for the only people in the park to be Bernie and me, walking our landlady's dogs (yep, we're nuts) or on a winter's day for us to be salvaging an abandoned kayak that went adrift in a storm.
But in summer, the parking lot is full and some drivers park on the field. There's a steady rumble of wheels from li'l wagons full of kids and coolers full of beer being rolled along as neighbours walk to the park and visitors walk from the #11 bus stops. But those little rumbly wheels don't bug me like cars do! If everyone in that crowded park walked in from their homes or the bus, I wouldn't be half so crowded by the crowds. It's the car traffic in and out of Gyro Park that gets on my nerves. I swear, one morning all the parking places in the lot are going to be painted with "Handicapped Parking Only", "Boat Loading Only", and "Bus Only" -- on that day, do NOT ask me why there's paint spattered all over my paddling clothes.
It's not that I don't want to share this wonderful park with everyone who comes here. Well, maybe it is. Maybe after walking and kayaking at this beach year-round, and trying to disturb the seals, otters and herons as little as possible, I resent coming to the shore and seeing humans stacked like driftwood everywhere. The other day, the only wild creature I saw was a bald eagle hovering very high over the beach on an updraft. Even at that height, I could tell he was scowling.
But, I shall try to accept the crowds. After all, they're only here in bright summer weather. And they do pick up nearly all of their trash. And on the outside of the trash bins, the racks for pop bottles are full, so that when the scruffy guys come through the park collecting bottles it's easy to find 'em. And maybe this year most of the able-bodied people without boats will learn to hike or take the bus to the park.
But darn it... it's a lot harder to get my little inflatable kayak or the new Mini-Tripper to the beach without thwacking into someone in the crowd. And my wet suit has a mend on the bottom. *sigh* Vanity is a sin, anyway.