North Coast Beauty

To celebrate our 38th wedding anniversary, B. and I spent a whole day on an outing to coastal places.

We stopped at this spot by the Navarro River and wondered at the water color.

It was chilly under the ramrod-tall redwoods there, but on the whole, the day was unseasonably warm for the coast, and we thanked God for that extra gift. After a long drive through spectacular landscapes we reached the little artsy town of Mendocino. First we ate lunch, which provided respite for the visual senses, while we indulged our taste buds.

There’s lots of nice driftwood on display in the town –see the faces?

One of the first shops we visited was full of kaleidoscopes that were amazing works of art and engineering, some priced at well over $1000. Looking through just one kaleidoscope gives the aesthetic mind a lot to ponder.

In other art galleries we feasted our eyes and fingers on wooden bowls and buffets, ceramic platters and sculptures, quilts, and paintings of the landscapes that are beloved by us after living in Northern California for most of our adulthood.

To think of all the craftsmen making these lovely things, it made me glad. I snapped this hand-carved wooden Noah’s ark in one window…

…mostly because I loved the sea otters,
in a characteristic pose with little “abalone” shells on their chests.

We wanted to go out on the bluffs to look at the flat ocean, because by then we were experiencing Art Beauty Overload.

Maybe it is because we aren’t used to protracted active examination of the visually sublime. I usually have lots of work to do and break it up by occasional joy in one flower or tree.


Any one of these objects might be more satisfying if you could sit and hold it a while, or put it on your wall to befriend slowly. The whirlwind tour of so much creativity makes for too much to actually “take in.”

Outside again, I did have work to do, trying to get good pictures of the world around me, adding my own sub-creative endeavors to my Father’s.

Anatole France said that “Man is so made that he can only find relaxation from one kind of labor by taking up another.”

Studying is a kind of work, and I already know more about the plant world than the art world, providing some foundation for further study and making it easier on my brain to examine the flora of Mendocino than the things in galleries.

Mustard trees like these above could easily hold birds, as mentioned in the Gospels. Their “trunks” are sturdy enough to survive the blustery winters out there above the surf, and in the spring they scatter their yellow cheer all over the rough brownness.

Surely the dark bushy stuff can’t be broom….wish I could get closer to look better. It would be a lot shorter and denser than what we see inland. But so many plants on the coast do seem to squat down close to the ground to brace themselves against the wind.

Lupine plants are spread all over the fields, not blooming yet. I think they will be blue when they come out. The giant yellow lupines we often see on the coast stand three feet tall. They haven’t flowered yet, either, but on our way out we passed large patches of purple lupines along the road–a medium-sized variety.


A little iris nestled into the tangle.

We took the long way home, which included hours of driving along the cliffs, with repeated vistas of cattle grazing below a backdrop of dark forests and clear blue sky, and redwood stake fences running along the highway intermingled with stands of spreading cypress trees.

These sights became familiar enough after a while that they were comforting and not so overwhelming. Look at the steers–they are doing their work, so they can bear the view without it tiring them out.

During part of the car trip, we listened to a whole disk of George Gershwin, which was another relaxed intake of beauty and appreciation of artistry, this time through the ear gate. At home, I never give my full attention to the music that might be playing, because I have too much else to think about. Sometimes we were in silence, just enjoying the sights. And for some hours B. played many of his iPod songs that I like, and we even sang along together with tunes that have accompanied us through our married years.

It was a splendid day!

14 thoughts on “North Coast Beauty

  1. A lovely couple, with much to celebrate…thank you for sharing so generously of your anniversary wanderings. Give B. our best wishes too please. You two sure are looking great, 38 years down the road, grandpa and grandma…. Haven't lost the glow…isn't God good!


  2. Oh, I loved seeing your photos of Mendocino! I lived there once, long ago, and loved that beautiful little town on the ocean's edge. And happy anniversary! My husband and I always repeat the Browning quote to each other on our anniversaries: “Grow old with me, the best is yet to be.” xo Kari


  3. Happy Anniversary to you & your hubby! May God grant you many more joyful years together. Thank you for sharing about your splendid day…

    My sister-in-law took us on a tour through Mendocino when we visited her family a few years back; we thought it was such a lovely place. I understand fully about “art overload” , too. I like to take it in small doses, savoring it rather than just passing it by.


  4. What a beautiful sharing of your day together. Happy Anniversary! The photos were calming and yet enticing one to want to see more, I was especially delighted to think of you and your husband of 38 years singing along with the songs that have “accompanied” you through your married years.


  5. What a perfect anniversary celebration you so generously shared with us. I love the coast. Bill and I stayed at a place called Sea Ranch (or something like that) and your pictures reminded me of the drive. That tiny purple iris gives me hope! My iris have appeared. They come back so abundantly!


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