I think I counted at least ten varieties of flowers on the cliff bluffs: yellow daisies, white daisies, orange poppies, white bunchberry(?), white violets, purple violets, ice plant, purple statice , white statice, and red bottle brush. You see a few of them above. And it’s still March!
March blew out like the lion, with 15 mph gusts and a need for ear coverings during our walk. I was really tired and dubious about walking, but I’m so glad we did, even if we abbreviated it considerably. Being tired after a walk is so much more pleasant than being tired before a walk!
I have flowers on the table at special times. However, I’m not a great gardener; although, to my astonishment, I seem to be able to keep my indoor orchids going quite nicely. Someone gave me one right after we moved to California, and they are a common hostess gift, it seems. They appear to thrive on benign neglect, which is the best I can offer them. I wish other things did…How much more the world would thrive if we could just smile and sing a note or two and carefully pour a little water…
It reminds me of a Kansas sunflower, but not really.
There’s a lot that’s not really. He’s not really honest. It’s not really fair. It’s not really a dairy product, not really organic, not really free-range… It’s not really economically viable. It’s not really scientific. It’s not really nice to cut in line. It’s not really constitutional. It’s not really safe.
It’s what we say when it’s not really easy to just tell the truth.
This is growing over the sandy cliff at the inner edge of the beach. The flowers are a delicate pale pink in long narrow clusters. The leaves of the tree are flat, making me think they are a sort of cedar — not a pine or spruce. But I know so little about trees.
Another slight shudder today, the earth complaining and grumbling its warning. We are driving up toward that area tomorrow, which will make me uneasy, but I know I ought not retreat from possibilities.
We were thinking on our walk about how primal the ocean is; the water and sand and rocks and some sort of algae or seaweed have been there not just for millennia, but for millions of years. Or more. One’s teensy brain can’t really grasp it, but the toes in the sand and the wind in the hair and the sun on the back of the neck all proclaim it to be so.
This is the photo I didn’t post yesterday. I was in San Diego all day and didn’t get to walk on the beach today, but I did for sure notice the gorgeousness as I drove this morning, despite telling myself sharply to keep my eyes on the road. Cause of accidents: water loveliness?
That’s a lot of shiny sand. And the water is shallow for a long way out. It’s rather delicious. There are two girls cavorting way, way out in the distance, barely visible here.
I felt an earthquake tonight. I’d rather think about the ocean.
These were just little jewels, 1/4 to 1/2 inch long, lined up in a crack in the granite among the jetty rocks. The beach was very large and flat and shiny at low tide, quite stunning, but these were so unusual, and I’d never noticed them before, so I had to share them. They look like they were painted with tiny 2-hair brushes., with stripes and dots and squiggles galore.
As I struggle in making art, I wish I had the ease of creation so well demonstrated by nature (Nature?) But then, I haven’t had billions of years to perfect my work. Enough said.
It really looks monumental, as did the enormous twisted pile of kelp it came from. The mass of kelp was at least 50 feet long — maybe 100!
It was tormented and tangled, fat and thin, spiraling and turning, piled and stretched. It was easily ten times the size of any similar pile we’ve seen.
We’ve had rain squalls these past two days, and the surf seems to be squalling as well. Perhaps all that turbulence was able to uproot this enormous bramble of yellow-brown and wash it ashore. I photographed the entire thing, but it was difficult to create a sense of its scale with my phone camera.
I’m happy to have been able to walk today, just before sunset. It was a busy art day; I gave a “tour” of the fiber show at Soka University to some friends. They were an appreciative and responsive audience and liked my piece, which references the form of a wave. Which is why I mention it here. Art and the ocean, yes?
I wasn’t at the beach today. I don’t know if this godwit was or not. I don’t know enough about marine wildlife to know which birds migrate, which ones nest in places more or less permanently, how flocks and pairs behave.
I hardly know how I behave. It was drizzling this morning, chilly (by southern California standards, anyway) and damp. I had to eat, dress, and leave for a doctor’s appointment. Returned just in time for lunch and to prepare for a business meeting. When that was over, several other items intervened on the schedule and suddenly the opportunity to walk was gone. It feels like a gap, a mistake, an error, a poor choice, a mis-step, a lack of steps!
Tomorrow is equally busy. I don’t want to miss it again. Behaving isn’t just “Behave yourself!” admonished to a 2- or 3- or 4-year old; it’s living in (oh Lord, I sound like a self-help book) an authentic way, doing what is essential, making time for commitments, to self-promises, to fundamentals. It was hard enough losing those walks to The Virus; now I’ve lost today’s to impatient laziness and lack of planning. I hardly know how I behave…
We cleaned up the beach just a bit. It seems a hopeless task. After 45 minutes, we had covered only about 1/4 mile, and the two of us couldn’t even be sure we had traversed the entire width. We focused on the parts back toward the cliffs, away from the water, because there seemed to be more trash there than nearer the waves. Perhaps most of it near the waves had already been washed away or buried. When they saw us, several other people on the beach picked up the trash near them to deposit in our bags. Our backs hurt; we might need to get those long-armed grabbers if we want to do this on a regular basis. We collected at least three gallons of trash between us.
This was dispiriting, so we went down towards the water and I noticed the deeply carved channels in the photo above. They stand in striking contrast to the plastic bits, cigarette butts, bottle tops, candy wrappers, straws, and shreds of styrofoam that comprise the litter. My fellow humans disappoint me. How is it we can so cavalierly spoil such a beautiful place?
We weave, the sea weaves — with seaweed. This seems to resemble the base of the kelp plants, but the texture is more uniform and the color is certainly different. The kelp bases are beige and yellow and red and black; this is just black. Rather beautiful, eh?
There seemed to be slightly less trash on the beach today. Has the surf washed it away? Does someone pick it up? There are huge beach clean-up days, it seems, but only once a year. Then there are school projects for beach clean-up. I don’t go to school. Maybe I should. I really like going to school. Then I could be part of a clean-up!
Tomorrow we go with a big white trash bag and gloves and pick up what we can.
Well, not really. Rock, dead twigs, shadows. I don’t need to invent glyphs when nature does such a good job. This, along with the water and sky, was the beautiful part of the beach today.
The beach also had ugliness today, though. The overwhelming emotion during the walk was distress. In the last week or so, the campground has opened up new spaces, and there are far more people on the beach than we’ve seen before. Perhaps more families are on vacation. It’s spring break. That’s all fine, BUT: The amount of litter on the beach was so enormous that it was distracting, and the litter itself was varied and pervasive. You couldn’t walk two paces without seeing a crushed plastic bottle, a bottle top, a candy wrapper, a piece of plastic, odds and ends of paper…it was as if someone had carried a huge garbage bag full of stuff and strewn it behind them in the wind.
We talked about returning to the beach tomorrow with a big empty trash bag and plastic gloves. But the beach is at least 3 miles long and probably over 50 feet deep at low tide. An overwhelming job. A sad job. Do the state employees do cleanup? It was one thing to see the storm expose/deposit all those stones; it is quite another to see people leave their trash with such disrespect for this beautiful place.
Sometimes what’s on the beach appears to be a scattered collection of stuff; in this case, stones, kelp, and bamboo roots. I look around and see that jumble in my house sometimes, the scattered collections of books and papers and art and collected objects and utensils and furniture and lighting and just plain stuff. Some of it’s useful, some of it needs sorting, some of it needs tossing, some of it needs cataloging, some of it needs cherishing, even.
When you look out at the expanse of ocean, though, it is in such great contrast to the shore’s jumble. It is smooth and endless and seems all of a piece. It is so clearly what it is, and although there are many life forms in and below and sometimes above that water, its apparent uniformity is calming and centering. Maybe that’s why houses need blank walls or picture windows with simple views.
I have lived in 19 different rooms/houses. I’m still trying to make it right for myself. That room with the view eludes me, or perhaps I have it inside-out?
This photo is for Carolyn and her Dad. And me and my Dad. And anyone and their Dad.
The time just before sunset seems as magical as the time just after. I’ve missed the sunsets these past few days, being quiet indoors tending to recovering from The Virus. It is good to be back outdoors, with the wind, the pelicans, the tides, and now, even, the campfires.
The state campground is suddenly full: spring break? Warmer weather? More employees able to open more campsites? There are more people around, with tents and trailers and sleek shiny mobile campers and blankets and chairs and grills and kids and bikes and sand toys and surfboards. I don’t believe in magic, yet “magical” seems like the only way to describe it. It feels somewhat out of time, away and apart from the tragedies of Crimea and lost airplanes, of hunger and disease and corruption. Of missing fathers and cousins. We are but the stewards of memory, and the sun still sets.
The waves’ traces amaze. There was a variety of new forms visible in today’s low tide but it was these patterns that spoke to me.
Patterns…what patterns are we committed to without even knowing it? What patterns do we make, what patterns do we respond to? What triggers a change in our patterns and how can we be more aware?
I think about this when considering my long-standing difficulties with sleep. For how many years did I sleep blissfully eight or ten or sometimes even twelve hours straight? And what has happened to my brain patterns that now a five hour uninterrupted stretch is unusual? What factors triggered this change, and can I modify them?
Even more disturbing is the notion that there seems to be a parallel diminishing of focus and concentration. Have I developed a late-onset form of ADD? I seem to flit from one activity to another. An hour seems a long time to do any one thing. I’ll coin a new one: ARADD, age related attention deficit disorder! There does appear to be a connection with physical difficulty as well: my back wants a change of position after an hour — from sitting to standing to walking. Let’s move, it says, I’ve sat enough! Let’s sit, that’s enough time on my feet!
I can celebrate one new pattern, though: writing this blog daily, just before bedtime. This one I like!
This gnarly tangle of kelp parts is beautiful and stoic. The beach doesn’t withhold its treasures and it’s amazing to see this combination of textures and colors. Kelp has so many forms and colors; and it appears on the beach no matter what the conditions.
I am trying also to appear on the beach no matter what the conditions. I haven’t been feeling well so I took an abbreviated walk today. The air was so fresh and clear, the sun was warm, the breeze just perfect; I felt revitalized after the walk. Wore my beach shoes and let my feet get wet; that was very freeing. The ocean as restorative once again!
This is not the beach. But it is certainly the ocean. The Pt. Loma tide pools are a rich source of pleasure and wonder. Today we saw anemones, hermit crabs, snails, and a sea star. And that was in just twenty minutes, for we arrived just before the park closed. I got my feet wet. The water is plenty warm, so from now on, it’s water shoes. It’s really freeing to walk in the shallows without having to keep an eagle eye on the tides. (Once I was wet, I was far less careful!) There are lots of broad shallow piles of rock to climb on, and a nice trail leading down to the tide pools. The low tide season is nearly over.
The view from there is quite glorious. And we arrived home just in time to pull over to the side of the road and watch the last minute of sunset.
And we had brunch on the patio. So much more time outdoors than I’ve spent since childhood!
This is not “our beach.” This is the view over the cliffs from the meditation garden in Encinitas. The planes of the water look as if they were spread onto a surface with a palette knife, neatly squared off rectangles. The beach is flat and smooth, too, without the characteristic rounded stones of “our” Carlsbad beach.
The meditation garden offers many beautiful plants and flowers, but for me it might not seem as enchanting if it didn’t have this spectacular view. It amuses me that the sea can look like a painted backdrop, an evocation of itself, one-upping its own glory!
Slowing down to soak up this place doesn’t wear thin for me. Time stops, the carp swim in deliberate swirls, the groundsmen murmur, the meditators sit unmoving, the families swish by, and I try to inhale the peace.
We think at least part of it is alive. Strange looking agglomeration, yes? Wow at least. Gorgeous and weird. After I photographed it, we returned it to the sea. It was about 6-8″ long and seemed to have at least four or five different life forms attached.
The sea was ordinary today, if it’s ever really ordinary. There is more and more sand every day and we wonder where the stones are going. Are they washed out to sea? Piled up higher against the cliffs? Buried under sand? It’s not clear. But we walked at least two miles and explored the jetty tide pools and I got wet feet and wet jeans. It gets tempting to go barefooted but there are still areas where there’s no sand and one must traverse piles of stones — not comfy for unprotected feet. I may try to find my water shoes. The water isn’t that cold and there’s something freeing in not thinking about avoiding the waves!
Had lunch on our patio. Snow in Chicago. I like lunch on the patio.
This photograph was taken after last week’s storm. The thing was ginormous, as the kids say, and as I now say, but I didn’t choose to show it the day I took its picture. Because I took no photos during my short fast walk today, I thought I’d share it.
It has an other-worldly look, seems like it should be edible, and yet is a bit squeegly repulsive. I wonder if it actually is edible. Think I’d have to be pretty hungry.
Which brings me to wonder how I became such a “foodie.” As a child, eating was a bother; I had negative interest, with only a few notable exceptions (chocolate, artichokes, bacon, lobster? Tref always has its appeal!) And here I am now, a self-professed lover of food, of cooking, of baking…I don’t watch the food channels on TV, though; I don’t have an enormous or eclectic collection of cookbooks or recipes; and I don’t consider myself a superior cook. There are some things I do well, there are many I don’t want to bother with; I’m not an expert at anything; I don’t whip up new concoctions nor have regular feasts for 50; I have no specialties; I certainly don’t make everything “from scratch;” and there are many days I’m fine with eating out. Or even some packaged pasta (guilt: I adore Stouffer’s mac and cheese. So there.)
But I really still enjoy eating and cooking and the occasional invention and making a simple meal for people. I would be sad if I could no longer do that. Rye bread with caraway is wonderful, by the way. Would it be even better if I baked it myself?
A loss can have repercussions that are regenerative. We were at the extended mourning gathering for three days, during which we kept saying — and hearing — that we need to get together more often, just for good things, just to celebrate our family, our histories, our times.
So, these new patterns in the sand remind me of new patterns we can make with out lives. I’m meeting a family member just next week, one I hadn’t seen in many years, the mother of my beloved cousin’s two sons. She opened her home so generously and graciously to all of us: the new family, the old families, the constant family, the blended family, the cousins, the friends, the work and social connections. She and I will have coffee and renew our memories. Out of great sadness will come new experiences, new closeness, new perspectives.
We walked on the beach this evening at sunset. There will be picnics on the beach. Family picnics to share our time and love. The ocean seems eternal, holding all our yearning.
Did creatures make these holes, make themselves at home? And that lovely kelp pod just dropped there so perfectly, should it be proud of itself? And those crusty shells on the left, are they remains of previous denizens? (Love that word…)
We were on a different part of the beach today because tides were so high. The beach varies more than I would have thought. We went south and found people playing sand volleyball, with series of nets set up by the city. There was someone sitting ramrod straight and meditating a bit further down, and family groups, and walkers. More people than usual, perhaps because it’s Friday.
The waves were tall enough that they obscured the horizon when viewed from the right angle. The roaring was immense; it wasn’t stormy, just big surf! There was enough variability that we played tag with the waves — they were “it” and nearly tagged us. The water is warm enough that it’s not terrible to get your sneakers wet, but it is rather squoozly to walk in them afterwards. It will be nice to go barefoot. Soon.
This must be some sort of barnacle collection, but I think they should be tuba worms. Or something. Tuba worms?
It is my sister’s birthday today and I will see her Sunday at the funeral, and later this month we will spend a few days together, just the two of us. All we have is time and love, time and love to be tubes, to be together, to be sisters, to be family, to be happy, to be loving, to be creative, to be learning, to be walking and wondering on the beach, to be sending a gift to a sick friend, to be reading a fascinating book, to be knitting a sock, to be sewing a quilt, to be finding photos to take to a funeral, to be cooking a meal, to be taking a photo, to be working in the garden, to be making music, to be dancing, to be singing in the shower, to be listening to one’s children, to be giving hugs, to be calling friends, to be cleaning up, to be helping out, to be writing, to be.
There were at least four of these on the beach today, in various places, some even up against the cliffs. Lost traps must be expensive; I wonder when they are discovered missing? And how damaged is this — would it be salvageable? I wonder how long it will be there. Who owns it now? Would someone pick it up and use it for yard art?
Yesterday’s structure of bamboo (?) was no longer standing; the pieces were on the sand, either blown over by wind or knocked over by water or human hands. It would have been surprising to see it still standing, yet it made me wistful.
The sky was gray and featureless today, matching my mood. I feel numbed by loss, with a bit of cranky and weary around the edges. There will be some family memory-sharing time after the funeral, and I hope that will help. Help with what? Why do we do this “celebration of life” AFTER someone dies? Why don’t we make a bigger effort to do this BEFORE, maybe on birthdays?
Who made this, and when? How long will it last? Will I see it tomorrow? How fleeting are our constructs, how fleeting our lives.
My family — and many others — suffered a loss yesterday. It was a surprise, a shock, unexpected; we are still in the “I don’t believe it” stage. I lost my “oldest boy cousin,” apparently to a heart attack. He and his wife visited us ten days ago; I called him just last week to wish him a happy birthday, his 66th. We spent our summers together; he and his brother were my sister’s and my “summer brothers.” We adore our summer cousin/brothers and will have many stories to recall when we gather this weekend.
It does feel like “Life is but a walking shadow…” Yet when we recognize and honor the substance, the joy, the sparkle, and the love that substantiate that shadow, we give our words and our beings their deepest meaning.
New things wash up on the beach, the stony beach, the very much shallower beach. And this creature is fascinating and beautiful and repulsive all at once. I don’t know why it’s repulsive; and why are stones and shells beautiful? They are all nature’s creations, and this poor thing must have died an unexpected and difficult death, swept out of its secure home and onto the sand. It made me feel both sad and vulnerable.
The sky was stunning today and I wanted to include a sky photo but I am determined to be choosy about this blog, to keep it brief, and to keep it focused. Sort of. There I go, talking about the sky. The clouds were those fluffy small puffs aligned in rows against a bright clear blue after-the-rain glory, and perhaps I’ll use a photo of them if they appear tomorrow.
But California Sea Hare needed its memorial. I wouldn’t have known what it was had I not been informed by an expert at the Point Loma tidal pools several weeks ago. Thank you.
This storm has changed the beach, really changed it. There are stones everywhere — and pieces of concrete and boulders washed down from the cliffs, and huge agglomerations of kelp, and very little sand — or at least, exposed sand.
This photo is taken looking down from the stairway (about 70 steps) that leads to the beach. You can see that the foam-topped water is right up at the base of the stairway supports. It was just past high tide; when the waves pulled back, all you could see was stones. Later in the day when we went for a walk, there was some sand showing, but it was a narrow band, and the surf was encroaching on it, so that we had to skitter up into the rocks. Speaking of which, no skitterers in sight. Where do they go during storms? Where are their nests? They must have cancelled their town meetings these past few days.
We will be exploring other beach-walking possibilities, unless the state park system does some beach terraforming/transforming. It is tricky to walk on layers of round, slippery stones. Wonder how and when the sand reappears, if the rocks get gathered together by the tides and pushed up against the cliffs again…questions!
Still stormy today — and look at the new amazing kelp that washed up! There were enormously long “strands” of kelp in addition to these examples of baby mini bladders and huge round ones. The foam was also abundant, making areas near the shore look like fields of baked alaska bubbly meringue.
It was windy and much of the sand seemed covered by layers of stones that hadn’t been distributed there yesterday. The high tide was quite high and the seas rather rough; the waves must have carried the rocks to previously bare areas. It will be interesting to see what the beach looks like when this period of rain is over.
There were few people on the beach, with one intrepid soul riding his bicycle, winding among the stones. No one in the water, unsurprising. Those of us on the beach were a bit more bundled up than usual, although it wasn’t as much cold as it was windy.
Forecast for tomorrow: sun and more beauty. Meanwhile, people suffer and are afraid — in Ukraine, in Syria, in Uganda, in Venezuela, in too many places —