hydrangea blossoming

hydrangea blossoming
Hydrangea on the Edge of Blooming

Saturday, April 12, 2008

A Life Of Crime

Yesterday was a warm, sunny day, so I started it out with a little trespassing and then followed that up with some theft. It’s not every day that one feels like a little criminality, but there I was, strolling down the beach at Point Roberts with four rocks in my pocket and a ten-inch, scraggly piece of driftwood in my hand. For unknown reasons, Washington—unlike thoughtful places like California and B.C.—has decided that beach property owners own the land down to the low tide rather than the high tide. Fortunately, for the most part, people up here are tolerant of beach strollers but now and then somebody wants to be another kind of person.

There are five main beaches in Point Roberts: Maple Beach, which faces east across Boundary Bay to the rest of Washington and has a large public beach section; Lilly Point, which anchors the south-east corner; South Beach, which is all private; Freeman Beach which faces west and is private except for Lighthouse Park; and the private beach that then goes up to the border. If you are interested in a few pieces of driftwood, you are confined to searching on South Beach and on the west-facing beaches where the tide is heavy enough to wash such wood in. Which is to say, all private beaches.

Over time, I’ve brought a lot of driftwood back from the beach, as have all my neighbors: one needs only look around at all the fences formed from driftwood. But still, it’s apparently against the law. Some beaches are posted, but the signs are old and obviously not enforced and, indeed, it is a little hard to know just who is going to enforce the postings since the county sheriff’s office is not busy patrolling there. For no particular reason, I was up on Freeman Beach yesterday, a beach I haven’t violated for four or five years. This is mostly because I live near South Beach. But there I was, trespassing away, and noticing all the new construction there. Beach houses used to be modest little affairs up here, but the land boomlet of the last few years has brought us much bigger dwellings, although not quite McMansions, or at least not on the west-facing beaches.

And there I was, with my stolen goods, trespassing in front of a woefully over-sized house that featured brand new signs that, in effect, said “No Trespassing: I Own It All, Right Down to the Ocean, and You Don’t.’ So tacky, so unnecessary. There wasn’t a soul in sight on this beach other than me and not a sign of anybody at home in the house. Many of these beach houses are only part-time dwellings. The tide was very low and I restricted myself to near the water, but it made me wonder.

What kind of people move to a place like this to be so unneighborly, so ill-tempered, so rude? Yes, yes, we all know what the law of property is here. But who sits behind the need to post (not once, but twice, at each end of his 100 feet of frontage) one’s rejections of one’s mild-mannered neighbors? Probably, no one I’d want to know. Perhaps no one anybody would want to know. To be such a crank is one thing; to advertise it so clearly is something else again. It reminds me of people who buy Hummers, happily advertising to the rest of us their inner-13-year-old’s admiration for Arnold Schwartzenegger’s fantasy self. California friends tell me that even Arnold doesn’t want to be like Arnold any more.

But even more, I imagine this man, pacing his beach like Lear on the heath, raging at the high and heavy storm tide that is taking his rocks, his driftwood, his very sand away from him. ‘Damn you, Ocean,’ I imagine him saying. ‘Give it back! It’s mine, all mine!’ I hope I didn’t get his beach mussed up.


Anonymous said...

Right on Judy! I found this jerk's signs on the beach absolutely offensive, and can only guess that he, himself, is just as unpleasant as his signage. The bizarre legal fact that the beaches can be owned anywhere boggles the mind. What's next? Will rich people own the air too? And put up signs telling us not to breath? It's all just too much, and probably a part of why many of us" Point Bobbers" (and Bobbettes) just hide out at home and wallow in apathy.

Just my two cents for the morning. Love the blog, keep it up!


Anne Abrams said...

You have brought up an interesting question. I too own waterfront property on Lummi Island. And yes, we own down to the low tide line. but I was under the assumption that there was something call "riparian rights" on navagable waters which allowed people to walk anywhere on the beach below the high tide line. Of course we permit beach combers, always have, always will. If I learn more about riparian rights, I will gladly forward it to you. If what I believe to be true, I hope you will use that beach exclusively for beach combing.

gnatdroid said...

I've been reading your blog with a great deal of interest, since I am a property owner (and hopefully future resident) of Point Roberts. Unfortunately, it's very difficult to get current information regarding our community (except a bit or two once a month) without full immersion. Oddly, there are actually more people in the subdivision in which I currently live then in Point Roberts (even during the summer) and yet a quarterly newsletter is more than enough information for me. Although I don't always agree with you, I just wanted to tell you that I appreciate your insights and the fact that you are willing to share your experiences from that tiny, odd place.

Anne Abrams said...

alas, I misspoke. apparently riparian rights only applies to rivers and lakes