Tag Archives: North Coast

Bird tracks on the sand.

The coastal skies were either foggy or smoky or both, my last few outings to the beach. Today the sun shone bright and early on the shore, and during my entire drive over there.

Fishermen were wearing their scarves and layers against the usual morning fog, but they didn’t need that sort of attire.

Yesterday morning I’d wakened with body and mind rested in such fullness, that before I even got out of bed the idea of a beach trip proposed itself. When I saw the weather forecast, I knew in peace that I would go.

Trails of big and little bird tracks ran back and forth, and other mysterious patterns.

Many of the footprints surely were made by more than a dozen turkey vultures that I encountered by the shore, tearing at a dead seal. I ran up to provoke them into flying, so I could film them, and they obliged by flapping over to a driftwood structure nearby. Some of their group hung out in and around the lagoon.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the fall season, and October, the dying of the year, and how my garden has looked more depressing than I ever remember. It could just be because I am home and in the garden more than usual for October….

Other ideas swirl around in my head, stimulated by the books I’ve been reading, the high school church school class I help teach, and national and personal current events. Every thing is so connected to every other thing… Do I really need to write to process it, as I normally feel the need to do — or just to pray?

It was splendid to get the fresh but warm air at the coast. The year is on its way out for good, but the earth is merely settling down to rest, and to be renewed. I want to make my outing to the ocean more regularly in the future, God willing, and see the waves still crashing on the sand, and the various birds — though I’d prefer they not be buzzards — and the driftwood architecture humans are always creating. My feet will sink into the sand and feel earthy. I will be renewed, too.

 

Walking in foggy time.

I did it – I went back to the beach all on my own, only about three weeks after that last trip. Because I didn’t arrive until the afternoon, and I could only afford to spend a couple of hours at the most, I thought that time pressure would make the minutes fly.

Sea Rocket

But somehow, the opposite happened. Time swelled to be as big as the ocean; it was as vague and undefined as the fog. I walked and walked, lost in it, and when I checked my phone, I couldn’t believe how little of my allotment I had used. So I walked some more….

Believe it or not, I have the plant above, with the whitish leaves, in my garden. I bought it a the native plant nursery years ago, and knew it was a beach plant, but I’d never seen it before in its natural habitat. I recognized it immediately. I won’t worry about my plant anymore. It looks more spindly than these but otherwise … yeah. And I don’t know its name.

The sun never came out, but the air was pleasant. I wore a thin linen shirt, and carried my Teva sandals so that my feet could get the full sand experience. A girl spun cartwheels in the fringes of the incoming waves. Fathers with their children dug holes to catch the water. Bodies huddled like seals in driftwood teepees.

Coyote Brush

Bull Thistle

On my favorite shortcut road home I stopped many times to take pictures, and wished I could take scents. The masses of eucalyptus trunks and leaves exuded their distinctive aroma, which mixed with that of the cypress trees and the drying grass. Probably the coyote brush contributed to the heady perfume that was part of the afternoon’s fog on that particular hill.

Orange Bush Monkeyflower

Coyote Brush surrounded by Poison Oak surrounded by Coyote Brush

My app said that the little tree below was in the rose family. It had fruit looking like cherries, but didn’t resemble a cherry plum tree. I guessed it was a volunteer/escapee from an old farm nearby.

From the top of the hill I could look back and see just a bit of the bay and the hill above, through the fog and mist — and the barbed wire.

A wind came up and whished the slender eucalyptus leaves into a loud whisper, and they were still telling their secrets when I had to drive away. So I must go back soon for the rest of the story, right?

Our souls were satisfied on the pebbly beach.

Daughter Kate and her family are still here, and Pippin’s family also came to visit for a couple of days. We women took the kids to the beach, one that is becoming a favorite; it’s a little farther to drive to, but there is no undertow or other dangerous feature, and the sand is tiny pebbles. It doesn’t blow in your face and is much much easier to deal with at picnics — or in diapers.

Rigo liked this kind of sand very much for exploring orally; Kate spent a lot of time with her boys helping them to focus on the visual aspect of the smooth stones.

Scout joked he was on a mission to clean out the ocean; he and his siblings dragged up many sea vegetables and other live things. Pippin found starfish on a rock and brought them up for everyone to see for a few minutes before she put them back in a wetter place. The long-leaved kelp Rigo is touching had washed in still attached to its stone anchor.

Gooseneck Barnacle

Kate and Pippin took a lot of pictures that they shared with me, which is why I am featured in some scenes here. Raj understandably did not want to brave that wild surf on his own, but he did like throwing pebbles or grass into the waves from on high, secure in the arms of his aunt or grandma. We each took many turns with this routine, running down close enough to let the next wave wash over our feet, and to see Raj’s beaming face.

Ivy collected shells and used them to decorate the little mountain in which she buried my feet. Then we did the same to her. She looked much more elegant than I had as she received the warm sand treatment.

Pippin brought me special presents, as it were, a couple of tiny pieces of beach glass, and a strange little item she said appeared to be a bit of plant matter with grains of the pebbly sand embedded in it. That night I found that she had also taken a picture of me taking a picture of it. What a daughter!

Scout engaged his mother in a study of wave patterns. He had to hike back up the cliff to get a notebook from the car, in which they then recorded a series of waves, judging their relative size, to see if big ones came at regular intervals. It doesn’t seem to have been a long-term project.

Meanwhile, Jamie waited an hour or two before he was willing to get his feet wet. Then he had a lot of fun! This baby who was gentlemanly from the start, waiting to make his appearance until after we had said goodbye to his Grandpa Glad, is now five years old, and a real boy.

 

There were new plants for me to discover at the coast, as well as old favorites. Here are a few wildflowers I saw:

Silver Beach Weed

Indian sweet-clover

Pacific Gumplant

Kate and I were both grateful to Pippin for making our beach outing happen. Once more I had gone because someone else prompted me. August and September typically are the best months for pleasant weather on the North Coast, and I’m going to try very hard to go all on my own! It is always the most soul-satisfying place to spend some time.

The face of the earth ever renewed.

common yarrow

This sunny morning my neighbor Kim and I drove separately to the coast and met for a walk. On my winding way through the hills, I noticed Queen Anne’s Lace swaying in the breeze along the roadway. Trees, grasses and shrubs were painted in the gentlest pastel colors of lavender, green, and yellow-orange. The Psalter played through my speakers, and one of the Psalms I heard was 104, which is part of every Orthodox Saturday Vespers. It begins:

Bless the Lord, O my soul!

O Lord my God, You are very great:
You are clothed with honor and majesty,
Who cover Yourself with light as with a garment,
Who stretch out the heavens like a curtain.

He lays the beams of His upper chambers in the waters,
Who makes the clouds His chariot,
Who walks on the wings of the wind,
Who makes His angels spirits,
His ministers a flame of fire.

beach suncup

Once we set out at our brisk pace, I was distracted somewhat from my surroundings, except through my bare feet, which kept me tuned to the cool and firm sand under them, or the waves that splashed over. Though lots of people walked close to the surf, the beach in general wasn’t crowded. I had the feeling it must be the healthiest place around, with the quantities of sea air flowing freshly in and around us all.

I lost track of time. Eventually we parted in the parking lot, and then I wandered by myself in the dunes for a while looking at flowering plants known and unknown to me. I’ve managed to identify most of them — I think.

Ribwort Plantain

Silver Beachweed

non-native sand spurry

what we call ice plant – native of South Africa

Buck’s-horn Plantain

O Lord, how manifold are Your works!
In wisdom You have made them all.
The earth is full of Your possessions—
This great and wide sea,
In which are innumerable teeming things,
Living things both small and great.
There the ships sail about;
There is that Leviathan
Which You have made to play there.

These all wait for You,
That You may give them their food in due season.
What You give them they gather in;
You open Your hand, they are filled with good.
You hide Your face, they are troubled;
You take away their breath, they die and return to their dust.
You send forth Your Spirit, they are created;
And You renew the face of the earth.

Yellow Bush Lupine

If I hadn’t had another obligation in the afternoon, I think I would have meandered up and down the coast till dusk. I’ve never been more thankful that I live close enough to be in the domain of the sand and the sea and the flowers, on a warm and sweet June day.