Old tires and non-residents: Don’t tread on my sand!

by | Aug 13, 2020

Journal of Fla Studies

Volume 1, Issue 6, 2017

A Spare Tire for the One Percent

In September 2016, waves from Category 1 Hurricane Hermine dumped a heavy-construction tire on exclusive Belleair Shore, whereupon it dug itself into the sand. If I were superstitious, the tire might have represented a bad omen for the outcome of the 2016 presidential election. The colossal black olive was served up on a mound of lightning whelks, clamshells, scallops, and tiny coquinas. At first, the wet black sidewall created an interesting effect as it reflected the orange sky at sunset. The novelty soon wore off, and romanticizing it didn’t make it more attractive. It was pollution, unwanted flotsam, spewed onto private wealthy Belleair Shore. Or, on second thought, had it been there all along?

The storm might have exposed what was already there, just as the election had churned up the hidden anger of many voters. My husband and I encountered the tire while walking on the beach the day after the storm. Half of it stuck up in the sand like the tough black skinned exoskeleton of a sea creature. The other half was buried. I wondered if an excavation would reveal a whole monster truck. As the days passed, the wedged carcass did not move. The longer it stayed in place, the more it inspired me to reflect on how the tire was a scar on the beach and how it contrasted with the white sugar sand. I wondered if I pressed my ear to its sidewall, would I hear the latent roar of heavy construction machinery?

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Giant waves had deposited the tire on the beach forcing the residents to accept it and me as a permanent though unwelcome part of their seascape. I realize then that if they could, the residents would prefer to close off the beach access to me too, an uninvited guest.