Tuesday, March 30, 2010
AT THE BEACH...AND MOVING INLAND (February 4, 2000)
Seated atop a wind-worn cliff, on a flat sandstone rock...much like the sea birds perched nearby...I faced into a cool, westerly wind, surveying the green ocean and the cerulean sky before me. Mid afternoon on a cool February day, the sun shown brightly above me. The darkened lens of my sunglasses intensified the contrast of sea and sky, and brought into sharp relief the whole of the scene.
The wind was kicking up the waves, and a flowing swell pushed the tidal surge forward as water, wind and beach exploded in a cacophonous symphony of sounds, smells and sights. Lime-green water churned beneath a mantel of white foam and bubbles suspended atop the curling waves.
Wave after wave surged up the sandy beach incline gathering strength as they joined together to extend their reach up amongst the seaweed entwined rocks. At its highest upward extent, each wave slowed and weakened and stopped suspended, before falling back into the next series of surging waves.
Seagulls glided along the length of the beach suspended by the invisible current of the wind. Occasionally, they would suddenly veer toward the ocean...dropping like rocks...and dive into the waters chasing fish. Brown pelicans...in pairs and groups...majestically skimmed over the tops of waves, peering down into the sea, ready to grab an unlucky fish swimming too near to the surface.
The sound of wave and wind against the beach was unceasing, only pausing for a moment or two as the Universe took a breath, and then continued its song...its unending chant...in praise to the wonder of Nature. That chorus still reverberates in my ears, and the sounds are still with me in memory... that Beach I viewed on that February day in the year 2000!
We left the Beach and moved inland, away from the California coast. We left the sounds of the waves, the scent of salt-sprayed rocks, and the sight of sea birds outlined against the horizon, and moved away from that shore of blue-green breakers beating upon the coastline, and approached the hills and mountains, and felt the increasing heat as we escaped the coolness of the sea.
We moved inland and upward among the coastal mountains and valleys, East of the towns and cities that clung to the land overlooking the Pacific Ocean. We climbed up into those wheat-colored meadows, dotted here and there with evergreen live oak trees that sprung from the Earth like giant bushes, and as we climbed the scent of the land took us over. The salty aroma of the ocean was replaced by the pungent odor of topsoil, decayed leaves, animal remains, and grass. The Pacific Ocean could still be seen off in the distance, looking like a giant pond of mercury shimmering on the horizon.
Further to the East, we were enveloped by the approaching darkness of an ending day. Bright stars and a rising moon helped to guide our way along winding roads which plunged into valleys and ascended hills...and eventually came up on the open range, laid out in a tapestry of browns and dark forest greens. We stopped and we stayed in the area...and eventually called it home.
My memories of California will always include this panoramic vision of ocean, coastal hills, and a warm sun shinning down from a blue sky.