Tag Archives: North Coast

A story of creamcups and scouring pads.

The washcloth and the scouring pad were right there, and plenty of (salt) water, for cleaning up, but my grandson Scout and I didn’t need them for that, as our recent snacks had been eaten out of hand. We were at the third beach of that morning, earlier this week when he was down here by himself visiting all his grandparents.

Scouring Pad Alga

On the way we had traveled over “Wildflower Hill,” as I’d named it two weeks ago. Most of the April flowers had faded, but foxgloves were in bloom!

Our first stop at the coast was at my most frequently walked beach, where we spent the most time and effort around the adjoining lagoon, and climbing up and down the dunes.

Beach Wormwood

Our family and other homeschoolers used to play here 20 and 30 years ago. I found a few pictures showing us back then, when Kate was an infant:

Scout wanted to see the beaches that he’d gotten to know last summer, so next we went to one of those, where we noted the layers of different colors of sand, and the color of the ocean.

Yellow Sand Verbena

It was chilly and breezy, so we were glad to have our windbreakers. He was swimming in his borrowed jacket (but not in the ocean!), and I was squeezed into mine that I’ve outgrown, but they worked fine.

Creamcups

California Goldfields

At the last beach, after our snack, Scout wanted to explore “on the other side of those rocks,” and he soon came back to tell me it was urgent that I come, too, and see the tidepools.

I was so surprised. All the times I’ve been on that beach, and I never knew… It was the most interesting collection of creatures I’d ever seen in tidepools. And all around, new plants as well. Thousands of mussels grew crammed together on the rocks.

California Mussels
limpets
Gooseneck Barnacles
Lots of Feather Boa Kelp still rooted to its rocks.
Giant Green Anemones hiding in sand.
Turkish Washcloth
Black Pine Seaweed
Rockweed

Besides the plants and animals whose names I’ve mentioned in captions here, we also saw Black Oystercatchers, Bee Plant, Dogwinkles, Sea Thrift and Silverweed. These many evocative names began to swim in my brain and tried to form themselves into a fantastical story… but in the end all I could extract was the vision of me at the sink with those seaweed dishwashing tools, the Turkish Washcloth and the Scouring Pad Alga. We picked off the real live leaves of various kelps to bring home; I’ve yet to make soup out of it.


It was quite a stimulating day. Scout and I shared the feeling that our minds were buzzing, our hearts full with the excitement of such life and beauty lying quietly under a few inches of water or briefly exposed, shining with the glory of God. He’s already planning his next visit to this spot, and how his mother must join us to share the joy. Sounds good to me!

A beautiful Pride, and the Cross.

One day during this week of the Cross, which comes now in the middle of Lent, I drove to the coast. It was cloudy but not as cold as inland. Here the north wind has been blowing, and a different night Susan even built a fire that I was so glad to sit in front of when I came home late. I will write about the beach on my Sea Log eventually, but here I wanted to post pictures of the Pride of Madeira echium that are so abundant out that way in this season.

In the past I’ve mentioned how my late husband and I, celebrating our wedding anniversary in March, often used to spend a night or two at the coast, and it was on those trips that I first encountered this plant. We were always delighted to see it again and again up and down the California seashore, for more than forty years.

 

It does grow a ways inland, even in my neighborhood, but it seems to prefer the coast. And the botanical cousin that I have in my back yard, called Tower of Jewels, I do not love as much, even if it is more rare. I’ve never seen so many and varied colors and forms as I did this week along one stretch of Highway 1.

I also wanted to share something of the wonderful homily, “In the Days of His Flesh,” which I heard on a podcast. Fr. Patrick Reardon gave this homily on the Sunday of the Cross. But I am too sleepy, so I’ll just leave you with the link, and this little quote from elsewhere:

“The cross stands in the midst of the church in the middle of the lenten season not merely to remind men of Christ’s redemption and to keep before them the goal of their efforts, but also to be venerated as that reality by which man must live to be saved.

“‘He who does not take up his cross and follow me is not worthy of me’ (Mt.10:38). For in the Cross of Christ Crucified lies both ‘the power of God and the wisdom of God’ for those being saved (1 Cor.1:24).”

Mosaic is in the apse of the Church of San Clemente in Rome. Prompted by a comment from Jeannette, I have added a larger image showing more of the setting, here at the bottom.

Birds and a Sailor

In my first view of the ocean upon arriving at the coast,
I could see whitecaps.

Velella velella

But the wind wasn’t too bad down on the beach, and I encountered new creatures: Long-billed Curlews and a By-the-wind Sailor (Velella velella). After I took a few blurry pictures of the wind-blown Sailor, a wave rushed up and snatched it back into the deep. Lucky for me I had seen a (much better) picture of that same species of “gelatinous animal” just last week. The one I saw in person was probably less than 2 cm. in diameter.

The curlews reminded me of the Godwits I’d seen last summer. But the bills of Godwits curve upward, and those of the Curlews curve downward. There are many other differences, I’m sure, such as, the Godwits seem smaller and leggier — but the bill was the thing that helped narrow my search. Here is a better photo from the internet.

Dozens of geese flew overhead in a ragged and strung out V. They were no doubt fighting the wind up there as I was doing below.

My drive to and from the coast was through lush farmland and pastures, with black-and-white cows grazing on green green grass. And mustard twice as tall as at my last viewing.

Oh, what a day! Glory to God!

From a rock, with my feet in wet sand.

Looking upstream from mouth of creek.

On my drive to the coast today, I listened to “How Satan Deceives People” by Elder Cleopa of Romania. That story certainly set the tone for my visit, to make it even more contemplative than usual.

I had missed my Alone Time on the beach for exactly three weeks. Because wind seemed to be in the forecast a lot, I had been wondering if I would be able to get out there very much this spring, but when the wind died down here, it did there, too. I think the air temperature was about 60 degrees, but the water felt colder than ever; it was the first time I felt it to be somewhat uncomfortable right away.

The water temperature on the beaches I frequent ranges from about 50-55 degrees over the year, with the coldest months being April and May, and the warmest, September. By the time you get as far south as San Francisco the water is five degrees warmer on average. Anyway, that’s not much variation, and I’m wondering if the water felt colder because I am older (not to say old). What I like about that reductive explanation for certain perplexing changes is that it can quickly free up time and mental energy for other more interesting inquiries.

Today I was thinking about too many things to let the water temperature take over my mind, though I walked in the surf as much as ever. Tears came to my eyes, for joy at being there in the elements, my senses refreshed and my mind having encouraging things from Elder Cleopa to rest on. It was convenient that the elements were fairly gentle, and that the tide had gone out just enough to reveal comfortable sitting rocks at the north end of the beach where no other people were. I sat.

The tide had peaked high about two hours before I arrived, and as each wave fell away from the shore, it looked as though it were pulling back on itself; I wonder if that was an optical illusion from me seeing the steep slope of the beach as the wave retracted. The way tides work is pretty complex! I just read this online, when I was looking for the opposite of ebb:

“The incoming tide along the coast and into the bays and estuaries is called a flood current; the outgoing tide is called an ebb current. The strongest flood and ebb currents usually occur before or near the time of the high and low tides. The weakest currents occur between the flood and ebb currents and are called slack tides.”

I learned three things in that short paragraph. If I could find the time to study it, I would like to learn much more, from this book, Tides and the Ocean, that I borrowed from the library. I may have to take it to the beach and sit on a rock to read it, where I have no other books, and few other “tasks” to distract me. Pippin read a bit from it when she was here (away from her own books and usual tasks) and explained to me about some other things that affect the tides, like the sun, and local weather. There are many great diagrams and pictures to help explain everything.

The view from my sitting rock.

One idea from Elder Cleopa’s story that impressed me was that the only thing demons can do to us is suggest thoughts. We think they are our own and we build habits out of them, and follow a path away from repentance leading to salvation.

But God, through our conscience or our Guardian Angel or maybe many means, also gives us promptings, which it’s best to follow hard on. Otherwise the demons will come right along and suggest that we procrastinate. Merely procrastinating doesn’t seem too bad… But watch out!

The kindness of God quite overwhelmed me this afternoon. I got home a little late, with not enough time left to tell you all I had planned, about my outing — especially what I saw on the way home. If I am here tomorrow maybe I will work on that part. It’s easy to get behind in recounting the gifts of our Creator and Lover and Friend.