118578928I took a trip to the Texas coast (a place I’d gone every year when I was little) mid-summer when no one was sure if the Deepwater Horizon oil spill would reach the shores here or not.  They’d thought they’d found the first signs of its impact while we were there.  It got me thinking, though, that even on a much smaller scale the oil industry had left its mark on this region long before.  So, I wanted to write about it, but I wanted to do so without a lot of commentary, just imagery.  And here it is:

From “Breaking News”:

Our car ticks over the seams in the bridge that extends to the island.  My husband drives.  My nine-year-old daughter and I stretch our necks to peer down at the waves making the buoys sway.  Our foreheads press to glass.  Wondering if it smells like sea salt, my daughter rolls down her window.  A sulfurous gust knocks her hair from her shoulders before she rolls it back up.

“Gross,” she says with her nose scrunched.

Oil refineries spit white plumes just behind us.

* * *

The breaking news informs us that fifty-four days into the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, a tar ball has been plucked from the sand stippled with cigarette butts and pull-tabs a few miles down the beach from where we’re staying.

“Authorities say this will be tested,” the reporter explains, “to see if it came from the Deepwater incident or if it’s one of the usual tar clumps.”

It’s smaller than the usual, though, he notes.  “Maybe its small size is a good indication,” the reporter adds, “that if it is from the oil spill this will be the extent of it.”

* * *

Drilling platforms in the distance seem to join the sea and sky like black stitches on the horizon.

“So pretty at night when their lights twinkle, though,” I exhale as we tromp down sand-dusted wooden steps angling out of the dunes and down to the beach.

Read the rest here.