I feel so stupid. For years I thought the Piping Plover were just some bird that a few annoying people made a big deal about. Birds are boring and beach closures suck. They never really effected me personally, but I sympathized with other beach bums whose summers were being ruined by them and I inherited, through the popular local opinion on such matters, a contempt for those loudmouth meddlers who were putting some stupid bird above us and our fun down the shore.
Boy did I have that upside down and backwards. It’s funny when you think you see something so plainly and clearly, then realize it is just a simple trick. An illusion resulting from your incomplete perspective.
I still think birds are generally boring. And I still think beach closures suck. But I now finally get it, and understand that the Piping Plover go hand in hand with everything we love about the shore. If they can’t thrive here, then we’ve basically botched the whole coast thing and are heading in a really bad direction. Any small sacrifices we have to make for them to help set things right are, in fact, wisely selfish. It’s not just some bird that is at stake… it is the future of our own good times down the shore.
The magic of the beach has a lot to do with space, and freedom. Keeping our local animals like the Piping Plover in balance is a way to make sure we leave a little breathing room on the coast; which is precisely what we love about it so much. They are a nice little buffer that can keep us in check, and help stop us from overdoing it with the overdoing-it. They are like a mirror we can look into, to see just how sweet or not-sweet we are looking on the beach. I’ve been fascinated by this problem for a few years. It is the only truth I’ve found in an enormous pile of self-serving half-truths, outright lies, ignorance, and misinformation that surrounds these controversial little wonders. It turns out we just get frustrated and turned all around when we have to give up a little space and a little freedom to ensure we will continue to have some. Such a tiny price compared to the alternative. But we beach bums can throw some pretty major pity-parties when our recreations are disrupted.
So the next time I’m called on to make a sacrifice for a Piping Plover, I’m doing it with a smile, knowing I’m the one who is actually winning.
And now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to find a way to apply this same logic to the enormous iron pipe on my beach and the realization that the Army Corps Beach Replenishment is about to ruin my summer and seemingly take away everything I love about my beach. Just like some stupid bird. Only upside down. And backwards.