Monday, October 26, 2009

By the Seaside, By the Beautiful Sea

This past weekend Joe and I flew over to Orange County CA to visit my aunt and uncle, who live in Corona del Mar--it had been far too long since we'd been there and it was wonderful to spend time with them.  Both evenings we all sat out on the back patio and watched the sunset, and Catalina Island in the distance.  I wonder what it was like a century or two ago, when the hills weren't crammed full of houses and people weren't distracted from the natural beauty of twilight by the garish glow of someone's widescreen TV on the next rise - but probably if those folks thought about it, they'd have pulled their drapes. At least I'd like to think so.
My uncle lent us his car on Saturday, so we drove south to Laguna Beach, which is especially nice now that high season seems to be over.  We stayed out of the shops (with one exception) and had a wonderful stroll on the beach. I was busily collecting odd, calcified excrescences that turned out to be the tubes certain marine worms live in (there weren't any at home that day).  Then I saw a sign forbidding any collecting of shells, stones, etc. And that's okay.  Here's a photo I took after emptying my pockets; most of what's in the picture isn't anything I'd picked up. That's a worm tube at the lower right.

A little further on there are some rocky outcroppings; I climbed up on one and took a picture of the surf pouring through this hole in the rock (which is smaller than it might look, only 3 or 4 feet wide but quite dramatic.                                       Looking out to sea from where I stood is a big rock that was covered with pelicans. Unfortunately my lens wasn't long enough to get the kind of picture I wanted, but perhaps you can make them out. There were two young boys--probably 10 to 12 years old--out there in wetsuits with their surfboards, cavorting like sleek young seals.  When they saw me with the camera they waved and grinned and clowned around.  Their joy was infectious and they seemed so at home in the water.

This solitary sandpiper is one of the last pictures I took that morning.  The sun had been coming out from behind the clouds from time to time, but the light in this picture shows what it was like for the most part - more like a day on the north coast, and it made me rather homesick for Arcata. I fantasized a bit about living by the ocean again, but the next day, when we got off the plane, I was happy to see cactus - it made me truly feel that I'd come home, and of course I had.  Still, it's nice to feel connected to more than one kind of environment, to know there's more than one place where I could be content, just in case I'm reincarnated as either a sandpiper or a lizard!

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