Sky and water reflect, blue on endless blue.
Little birds nest in the sand while a vulture spreads its broad wings. Two humans walk maskless when others are far enough to be the size of ants. Behind the dunes, the sand is mushy and feet sink. An elephant seal calls out sounding like gurgling water in rusty old pipes. Barnacles cover cement and wood pushes itself into sand. Salt and grit whittle away at the skull of a whale that has found eternal rest.
Sky and water reflect, blue on endless blue.
I drive around in circles, looking for a place to park. I have no agenda other than to walk and take pictures, but today I am off kilter and a bit sad. I wander somewhat aimlessly, arriving at a hill. It is like a cartoon exaggeration of a steep street, but a perfect representation of my emotions at that very moment. I turn around before I reach its peak, adjust my temperament and start again. Riding the wave between is the balancing act of these pandemic days.
Finally parked, I head to the ocean, my steadfast friend. Here, the ravens dance as they always do. I am calm in their presence. The spirit finds solace in moments of simplicity. I cannot untether my connection to this place, even though I sometimes still feel like a tourist. The magic never ceases to surprise me, but I am easily wooed.
After a perfect amount of wandering, I return to the car and remove my mask. Contented and smiling, I wipe away the salt from the tears that dried on my sun-kissed cheeks.
I don't feel much like exploring but know it is for my own good that I do. I have a particular destination in mind but find parking to be sparse. I drive around until I find an easy spot, then set out on foot in a bit of a mope. The longer I am outside my mood is lifted and my spirit less blue.
I walk down the hill all the way to the Great Highway. It is closed to traffic now, with four lanes open to pedestrians and cyclists. The wind is gusty, so the humans are hibernating. So many times I have come here by bicycle and had to fight traffic to enjoy my ride. It is wonderful to have so much space here now.
Just over the wall at the beach, there is a dog playing chase with a raven. The dog leaps high and the raven dips low. They frolic, both willing to dance with danger in order to have a little fun. I can almost hear them laughing.
When I turn to go back up the hill, a strong aroma penetrates the four layers of my mask. It is ham, the kind we used to eat during the holidays when I was a child. Oddly I savor it, even though I have not eaten meat in over thirty years. It is a comfort I will not partake in now, but it is the feeling that it evokes that is my keepsake.
I get out my phone and record some thoughts. It is not something that I do. I am alone on the street and no one is listening. Is this what I have become? A wanderer who babbles nonsensically to herself? Whatever the reason, I am laughing for now. This is what matters most.
Fires recently engulfed the area surrounding this beautiful beach. I watched the progress and air quality daily and expected to now see it charred and withered. Instead, there is evidence but not ultimate destruction. Nature finds a balance as long as we don't stand too headstrong in its way.
As we walk, a raven is in lockstep with our movements. We say hello as he skips beside us. It is delightful and quite charming. As I reach for my camera, he doesn't exit the scene like most of the corvids usually do. Seeing my curious glance, he does a little dance and pauses for a snack or two. Every time I look for his wings to be outstretched, he is just strolling at a safe distance.
The beach is sparsely populated, so we are able to breath freely at least part of the time. The salt air smells good and my lungs fill, crisp and clean. Various sea birds flit about feasting on what washes ashore. This is a good mid December morning, in the year 2020.
The beach is beautiful as always, but it appears that the birds have been suffering a bit. There are more than a few carcasses in the sand. Perhaps these mark the end of well lived, flight filled days - but perhaps not. I'd like to ask the ravens, but they are busy feasting on the feathered dead (disturbing but true). They also dine on watermelon and french bread.
Mist rises and falls, forming temporary clouds on the surface of the water. Surfers dive in and out of wide waves. One loses his board which finds its way to the sand, resulting in a passerby becoming a good samaritan. I lose my mind to salty daydreams.
I don't put any rocks in my pocket today, but that doesn't mean I'm not looking for treasure. I recently read of an abandoned coal mine here. I count the gaps in the rock, guessing where the void falls deep. With my camera, I collect images of what shall be left undisturbed, the shared space of critters and man. I thank the winged ones for letting me walk among them, because it is we who have taken way too much.
On this day, I have come to the beach to remember an old friend who left us one year ago this month. I brought with me a candle made by another mutual friend in her honor. I envision myself with the candle lit, walking in the sand, with her spirit beside me. However, to light this candle, I have brought matches I got at a bar over 30 years ago. They are from a place we went together when we were too young to be in bars. These matches, marking the year we met, need to light this particular candle. But they don't. I use every match.
As the last match is blown out by the wind, I laugh and feel my friend laughing with me. I stop to pick up stones, except they aren't the moody dark stones I normally reach for. They are bright white with hints of green, like moss growing inside snow. My friend is choosing them; my hand is hers. I continue to enthusiastically reach for them until my pocket is heavy and wet with rocks. The unlit candle sits in my other pocket. I feel the weight of absence alongside the joy of the moment, the shared love of the ocean.
Finally we are collectively breathing a sigh of relief and feel there is still hope to be had. Although faces are mostly still masked, I can tell most people are smiling and stepping a bit lighter. I hear laughter, lots of it. I can't recall when I last witnessed real glee, but it is palpable. My eyes well up with grateful tears.
A scantily clad man rushes into the ocean waves, fists up, boxing with the water. While submerged, he loses his pants for a bit. He comes out smiling and still boxing. I have no idea what this is about, but everyone finds their inner peace somehow.
Dolphins leap at a short distance. Such is the magic that the ocean provides. Ravens squawk and gather in the morning sun. Happy to find them here, I wish to attend their party. A lone shoe has lost its business casual human. Walls along the fenceline are exuberantly painted.
Above this beach, wealth takes a heavy sigh. This remarkable place is not theirs but belongs to all who step foot here. The bridge casts a shadow on the headlands, beaming bright but also capable of darkness.
Sand always reaches between my toes, no matter the height of my boots.
On the way to my destination I blast the music in the car and sing along. This is one of the joys of driving. It doesn't matter if I know the words, if I sound totally off-key, or even if I truly love the song. What matters is the release.
Driving over the Golden Gate Bridge the morning fog engulfs the bridge itself. I can see enough to get across and make my way to Baker Beach. Once there, the fog remains thick. The atmosphere is mysterious and somewhat magical. The mist from the fog and the ocean mix to make a salty spritz.
Fishermen dot the edge of the water, casting rods into raucous waves. One gentleman has built a low barrier wall and moat to protect him from the water. I compliment his set up and he grins at me, sans a few front teeth. He gestures to the sculptured sand and says something I can't quite decipher over the sound of the ocean. I smile back anyway, then realize he cannot see half my face covered in a mask. I give a friendly wave and walk on.
A man waves a metal detector over the sand. He has a little basket to filter the earth from his treasures. He shakes the basket and then puts something in his pocket. This is a modern day gold digger. I hope his search proves fruitful.
I wander to the edge of the beach where on a clear day, the view of the bridge is quite breathtaking. Today I like feeling like I am on another planet. I'm happy here where water fades into sky, and sand finds a home between my toes.
The air was clean enough to go to the beach this morning. This is our constant cycle these days. Check the air quality, measure the covid risk, and decide the heatwave tolerance level. It is the 2020 disaster dance of west coast sanity seekers. We are mostly here for the environment after all. It is so strange to interact with it in this odd and dysfunctional way. Nevertheless, at the beach, contentment is found.
The waves are raucous and surfers find solace in flowing with the push pull of the water. Salt drenches sun soaked skin of those who see the ocean as their second home, or maybe even their first. I grew up in the south near a river where, at the time, people dumped old refrigerators and used car parts. Sure, it was also pretty in certain areas, but it wasn't much more than a glorified creek. So, to me, the ocean has always seemed so grand. I realize I repeat this sentiment over and over again, but some things are well worth repeating.
THE DISQUIETED QUIET
photography and writing
THANKS FOR STOPPING BY!
Please save a bookmark for this blog in your browser, and visit again at your leisure. I'll be posting often.